BY MICHAEL PASSMAN
As a happy coincidence to the festival weekend, The Mummies drummer Russell Quan played a few days before at Hotel Vegas with his band The Chuckleberrys (above).
ACL Festival has a reputation for a limited variety of music, but not necessarily up and coming acts. That changed this year. Among the newer acts to play were The Savages, an all female act that played loud and perfectly channeled ‘80s goth angst.
An unexpected surprise show was Detroit’s Electric Six, a garage rock band best known for their single “Gay Bar”.
Stoner Rockers Queens of The Stone Age put in a great performance later that evening, which was followed up by Depeche Mode and Muse playing simultaneously on two stages. Story and images for Depeche Mode can be found here.
There were some great ACL sponsored aftershows the first night, including Ty Segall’s new band Fuzz. However, Renaldo Checker and André Williams played a non ACL show at The Continental Club that evening. I was hoping for a large turnout for such a legend, but the turnout was disappointing. Still, it was a nice change from the masses of festival goers.
Reynaldo did incredible soul covers, including a rousing version of Curtis Mayfield’s Move on Up. André was a surprise. I’ve seen him perform regularly for seven years and he gets better every time, but I’ve seen him at very low points in his career where he looked tired and frail, have short seizures, and I’ve seen him absolutely wow the crowd. He held the crowd captivated.
Instead of just a performance, André controlled the crowd and kept them excited from start to finish, both with material from two albums released in the past year as well as his classics like Bacon Fat. Of course, Pussy Stank is always saved for last.
With Austin having such a big music history that continues, festival weekends often have some unexpected combinations on stage and in the audience. André is a legend, so I had high hopes. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion performed at ACL Festival earlier that evening. I missed them since I was shooting Queens of The Stone Age, but Jon Spencer is among those responsible for reviving André’s career (and André himself), so I had hopes Jon Spencer would get on stage with him. That didn’t happen, but Jon came by to catch the end of his set, hung out for a while, and shook hands, signed autographs, and chatted up with everyone who approached him. As much as I wanted to see him on stage with André, it was great that he came to see the show and lend his support.
After Jon left, I sat out back of the club to talk to André while he had a cigarette and decompressed from the show. André stopped drinking four years ago, so after the show and all the hellos and autographs, his time to calm down involves some quiet and conversation. A guy walked out the back door and said “I’m with The Arctic Monkeys and Queens of The Stone Age. You’re a big influence on them and they’d like to meet you, can you come inside?” André said he’d come in soon. At that, the guy said “Come in. They’d like to meet you. We’ll pay you for the cigarettes.” André stood up, put out the smoke, and bowed his head to come back in. As nice as the bands were to him and the few left around closing time, the interaction with the handler was disgusting and brought to mind Cotton Club racism, where the same performers were subordinated to being called upon. If André was so important to them, they should have approached him instead of summoned him to come to them. It wasn’t intentional, but it was racist. Also, I can understand that other cities might be a bit uncomfortable with celebrities, but for both Austin and especially The Continental Club, nobody really cares. If he was that important, they should have come to the show to see him perform. Nobody would have recognized them and if they did, chances are they wouldn’t have cared since most who come out to see André could care less about those two bands.
Adding further insult, the other handler tried to clear out the bar while it was still open by advising others that they should leave so the band could have the bar to themselves, including me and a few other regulars. I was ready to leave anyway since it was late and I had an early start, but in recounting the story to a few employees at the club the next evening, a few were livid and said that nobody wanted the bands there and they wanted them to leave instead. Apparently, both handlers were not exactly favorable to other media and others had negative experiences with them. Suffice to say, the band should have come to him out of respect and admiration, not to mention the fact that it would be the least they could do considering both acts see more money in a few years than André will see in his lifetime.
Passman’s Complete ACL Coverage: