Taping recap: Vampire Weekend

photo by Scott Newton

Six years is a long time in popular music. For Vampire Weekend, that means six years since the band’s last album and six since the last time they were on Austin City Limits. But the success of their fourth album Father of the Bride – which is also their third #1 on the Billboard album chart – proves that six years is nothing to a fanbase as loyal and enthusiastic as theirs. To say the crowd was excited for Vampire Weekend’s return – which we live streamed around the world – is an understatement. 

The audience yelled their appreciation loudly as the seven-piece band took the stage with the double drummer groove of “Sympathy,” from Bride. The group then dipped into their landmark Modern Vampires of the City, for the jangly “Unbelievers.” A cheer went up at the opening, African-tinged chords of “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” a canny update of American worldbeat experiments, followed by the eight-and-a-half minute “Stoneflower,” a more jamming multi sectional version of the new record’s “Sunflower” highlighted by dual guitar action and a dizzying solo from axe person Brian Roberts. If dual guitars are good, triple are better, as leader Ezra Koenig, bassist Chris Balo and Roberts harmonized the intro to the Afrobeat-loving “White Sky.” Bride’s “Bambina” followed, working a delightful pop atmosphere all VW’s own. That led into another epic tour-de-force, as “2021” went from ethereal ballad to bombastic lighter-waver, all of it laced with Koenig’s subtle talk box. The crowd loved it. 

Something lighter was clearly required, and the sweet psych pop of “Step” provided it. “My Mistake” got even quieter, its strain of sixties pop melody made all the more acute by its demand for close attention. Breath sufficiently caught, the band launched into “New Dorp New York,” Koenig’s collaboration with EDM producer SBTRKT, transformed into a Vampire Weekend funk rock epic. “This Life” took the band back to jangle pop, but Koenig’s jones for catchy melody really flowered on the masterful “Harmony Hall,” a clear audience favorite. VW followed that triumph with the radio hit “Diane Young,” its original faux-rockabilly stylings replaced by more forthright rock & roll. The group revisited second LP Contra for the spiky “Cousins,” but that was just a warm-up for “A-Punk,” the band’s breakthrough tune which brought the crowd to its feet to sing along. 

After that breathless five-song rush, it was time for another ballad, and the group obliged with the lovely “Hannah Hunt.” VW ended the main set with “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin,” which started slowly and gently, before building up into a drum-driven epic. The audience went wild. Of course, the band came back, bearing a surprising and faithful cover of Crowded House’s guitar pop standard “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” Following retakes of “2021” and “This Life” (which their fans didn’t mind at all), Vampire Weekend ended the show with the power popping “Walcott,” a fan favorite given a turbocharged reading here. It was an excellent show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it airs this fall on your local PBS station.

Giveaway: Black Pumas 8/28

photo by Greg Giannukos

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Black Pumas on Wednesday, August 28th at 8 pm at ACL Live at The Moody Theater (310 W. 2nd Street, Willie Nelson Blvd). We will be giving away a limited number of space available passes to this taping. Enter your name and email address on the below form by noon on Monday, August 26th.

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pick up tickets. Winners will be notified by email. Passes are not transferable and cannot be sold. Standing may be required. No photography, recording or cell phone use in the studio. No cameras computers or recording devices allowed in venue.

ACL announces live streams for Vampire Weekend, Black Pumas and Colter Wall

VampireWeekend_Livestream_45_square

Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce that we will be live streaming a trio of upcoming tapings, with indie rock kings Vampire Weekend on 8/22, Austin psych soul band Black Pumas on 8/28 and Canadian Folk & Western singer Colter Wall on 8/30. Each stream starts at 8 pm CT on our YouTube channel

Vampire Weekend returns to Austin City Limits for their highly-anticipated second ACL appearance.  Ending months of fevered anticipation punctuated by three brilliant double-A-side singles and a slew of over-the-top positive early reviews, Vampire Weekend’s long-awaited fourth album Father of the Bride was released earlier this year, landing the #1 spot on the U.S. charts in its debut.  The album was released to rapturous reviews: GQ says “One of the most important bands of the 21st century…With Father of the Bride, their fourth album, the group has expanded itself and the conception of what a band can be”;  Stereogum hails Father of the Bride, “Quite possibly their magnum opus”; USA Today raves “Vampire Weekend returns as the best indie band of their generation.” The third Vampire Weekend album in a row to reach #1 on the Billboard 200, Father of the Bride’s first week tally of 138,000 is both the year’s biggest sales week for a rock act and the highest single week sales of the Grammy-winning band’s career. Vampire Weekend recently made their first television appearance in five years and kicked off their Father of the Bride North American Tour with sold-out dates throughout 2019. Watch the Vampire Weekend live stream on Aug. 22 here

Black Pumas, the collaboration between former L.A. street musician Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada, the Grammy-winning founder of Austin’s Latin-funk powerhouse Grupo Fantasma, is having a banner year.  The buzzed-about act just released an acclaimed self-titled debut and won Best New Band at this year’s 2019 Austin Music Awards. Described as “Wu-Tang Clan meets James Brown” by KCRW, they locked down their reputation for thrilling live shows during a 2018 residency at the C-Boys venue in Austin that overnight became the hottest party in town.  The group’s 2019 South by Southwest appearance earned them numerous shout-outs from national press, with NPR hailing them “the breakout band of 2019” and Rolling Stone naming Black Pumas one of the festival’s best acts, saying “Few artists seem to tap the collective unease of the national moment quite like Austin’s Black Pumas…never missing a beat is the tireless, charismatic energy of singer Eric Burton.”  Austin-American Statesman raves “In an era of widespread despair, the band makes rock songs that feel like prayers.” Watch the Black Pumas live stream on Aug. 28 here

After two years of nonstop touring, Colter Wall wanted to make an album about home. Drawing on the stories of his native Saskatchewan, the young songwriter’s corner of the world takes shape throughout his second full-length album, Songs of the Plains. Produced by GRAMMY® Award-winning Dave Cobb in Nashville’s Studio A, the project combines striking original folk songs, well-chosen outside cuts, and a couple of traditional songs that reflect the 24-year-old’s roots growing up in a small town in Western Canada.   The New Yorker declared, “Wall is among the most reflective young country singers of his generation… His ace in the hole is his showstopping voice: a resonant, husky baritone, wounded and vulnerable.” “Wall pushes in close against the untenanted space of the middle provinces, filling their geographic gaps with an intoxicating rasp,” notes Pitchfork. “He sings with a serrated edge, his voice digging crevices rich with heartbreak, homeland, and heritage.” Noisey calls Songs of the Plains “ a heartbroken triumph, a statement suggesting that all that’s missing is perhaps not forever lost.” Watch the Colter Wall live stream on Aug. 30 here

Join us in August here for sets by these great artists. The broadcast episodes will air on PBS later this year as part of our upcoming Season 45.

Giveaway: Vampire Weekend 8/22

photo by Monika Mogi

UPDATE giveaway is now over.

Austin City Limits will be taping a performance by Vampire Weekend on August 22nd at 8 pm at ACL Live at The Moody Theater (310 W. 2nd Street, Willie Nelson Blvd). We will be giving away a limited number of space available passes to this taping. Enter your name and email address on the below form by noon on Tuesday, August 20th.

Winners will be chosen at random and a photo ID will be required to pick up tickets. Winners will be notified by email. Passes are not transferable and cannot be sold. Standing may be required. No photography, recording or cell phone use in the studio. No cameras computers or recording devices allowed in venue.

Sharon Van Etten 9/30/2019

photo by Ryan Pfluger

Sharon Van Etten’s fifth album, Remind Me Tomorrow, called her “most atmospheric, emotionally piercing album to date” (Pitchfork), comes four years after the acclaimed Are We There, and reckons with the life that gets lived when you put off the small and inevitable maintenance in favor of something more present. more

Cage The Elephant 9/27/2019

photo by Neil Krug

Austin City Limits is proud to announce two new tapings for our milestone Season 45. Canadian country singer Colter Wall makes his debut on August 30, while Kentucky modern-rock stars Cage The Elephant make their highly-anticipated ACL debut on September 27. more

New tapings: Black Pumas and Sharon Van Etten

photo by Greg Giannukos

Austin City Limits is happy to announce two more tapings for our standout Season 45. Austin progressive soul band Black Pumas come to the stage for the first time on August 28, while acclaimed singer/songwriter Sharon Van Etten makes her ACL debut on September 30.  

Eric Burton, a former L.A. street musician who used to busk for a living at the Santa Monica Pier, made his way to Austin in late 2015, setting up a busking spot at downtown’s 6th and Congress. In 2017, guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada, the Grammy-winning founder of Austin’s Latin-funk powerhouse Grupo Fantasma, had recorded some instrumentals in his Austin studio, and started looking around for a vocalist—he knew a lot of singers, but he wanted something different. A mutual friend mentioned Eric Burton to Quesada, saying that he was the best singer he had ever heard.  The two musicians connected, with Burton singing to one of Quesada’s tracks over the phone. The first day they got together in the studio, they recorded the dusty funk that would become the Black Pumas’ first two singles, “Black Moon Rising” and “Fire.” The results of that beginning can now be heard on their self-titled debut album. Burton’s taste, range, and experience proved to be exactly what Quesada was seeking. “We just take to the same kind of music,” says 28-year-old Burton. “I listen to East Coast hip-hop, old soul music, folk music. When Adrian sent me the songs, it was like I had already heard them before. We were on the same wavelength from the get-go.” Described as “Wu-Tang Clan meets James Brown” by KCRW, Black Pumas won Best New Band at the 2019 Austin Music Awards.  They locked down their reputation for thrilling live shows during a 2018 residency at the C-Boys venue in Austin that overnight became the hottest party in town.  The group’s buzzed-about 2019 South by Southwest appearance earned them numerous shout-outs from national press, with NPR hailing them “the breakout band of 2019” and Rolling Stone naming Black Pumas one of the festival’s best acts, saying “Few artists seem to tap the collective unease of the national moment quite like Austin’s Black Pumas…never missing a beat is the tireless, charismatic energy of singer Eric Burton.”  Austin-American Statesman raves “In an era of widespread despair, the band makes rock songs that feel like prayers.” 

photo by Ryan Pfluger

Sharon Van Etten’s fifth album, Remind Me Tomorrow, called her “most atmospheric, emotionally piercing album to date” (Pitchfork), comes four years after the acclaimed Are We There, and reckons with the life that gets lived when you put off the small and inevitable maintenance in favor of something more present. “I wrote this record while going to school, pregnant, and working on other music” says Van Etten. Throughout Remind Me Tomorrow, the singer-songwriter veers towards the driving, dark glimmer moods that have illuminated the edges of her music throughout her decade-long career and pursues them full force. With curling low vocals and brave intimacy, Remind Me Tomorrow is an ambitious album that provokes our most sensitive impulses: reckless affections, spirited nurturing, and tender courage. Rolling Stone raves the release “…ups her ambitions even further, pushing toward a grand, smoldering vision of pop.”  Recorded in Los Angeles, the songs on Remind Me Tomorrow have been transported from Van Etten’s original demos through producer John Congleton’s arrangement. Congleton (St. Vincent, David Byrne, Unknown Mortal Orchestra) helped flip the signature Sharon Van Etten ratio, making the album more energetic-upbeat than minimal-meditative. “I tracked two songs as a trial run with John,” she says. “I gave him Suicide, Portishead, and Nick Cave’s Skeleton Tree as references and he got excited. The songs are as resonating as ever, the themes are still an honest and subtle approach to love and longing, but Congleton has plucked out new idiosyncrasies from Van Etten’s sound. For Remind Me Tomorrow, Van Etten put down the guitar. The record shows this magnetism towards new instruments: piano keys that churn, deep drones, distinctive sharp drums. There are intense synths, a propulsive organ, a distorted harmonium.   The New York Times named the record’s first single “Comeback Kid” one of “The 25 Songs That Matter Right Now,” calling it “the song you want to raise up your fists and loosen your hips to.”

Van Etten is earning glowing reviews on her global tour, with high-profile slots at Glastonbury and Lollapalooza. NPR Music raves that her live show is “a grand and magnificent turning point for this talented performer and her band.”  We are thrilled to welcome Van Etten to our stage in her first-ever appearance.

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast episodes will air on PBS later this year as part of ACL’s upcoming milestone Season 45.

New tapings: Colter Wall and Cage The Elephant

photo by Little Jack Films

Austin City Limits is proud to announce two new tapings for our milestone Season 45. Canadian country singer Colter Wall makes his debut on August 30, while Kentucky modern-rock stars Cage The Elephant make their highly-anticipated ACL debut on September 27.  

After two years of nonstop touring, Colter Wall wanted to make an album about home. Drawing on the stories of his native Saskatchewan, the young songwriter’s corner of the world takes shape throughout his second full-length album, Songs of the Plains. Produced by GRAMMY® Award-winning Dave Cobb in Nashville’s Studio A, the project combines striking original folk songs, well-chosen outside cuts, and a couple of traditional songs that reflect his roots growing up in the small city of Swift Current. “One thing I’ve noticed over the last few years, in the United States and playing in Europe, is that people all over the world really don’t know much about Canada at all,” he says. “When you talk about Saskatchewan, people really have no idea. Part of it is because there are so few people there. It’s an empty place—it makes sense that people don’t know much about it. But that’s my home, so naturally I’m passionate about it. With this record, I really wanted people to look at our Western heritage and our culture.” “I went into the studio and knew exactly the story I wanted to tell,” Colter says of the release. “That made it easier on a sonic level and a musical level, to be able to tell Dave that it’s a record about my home. That changes it at the roots level because it’s like having a mission statement, saying, ‘All right, let’s make a Western album.’” Indeed, Wall captures the expansiveness of the Western Canadian plains by relying on minimal production and his resonant baritone, which he’s strengthened into a mighty instrument in its own right. It’s a deep and knowing voice you wouldn’t expect of a man who just turned 24 years old. The New Yorker declared, “Wall is among the most reflective young country singers of his generation… His ace in the hole is his showstopping voice: a resonant, husky baritone, wounded and vulnerable.” “Wall pushes in close against the untenanted space of the middle provinces, filling their geographic gaps with an intoxicating rasp,” notes Pitchfork. “He sings with a serrated edge, his voice digging crevices rich with heartbreak, homeland, and heritage.” Noisey calls Songs of the Plains “ a heartbroken triumph, a statement suggesting that all that’s missing is perhaps not forever lost.”

photo by Neil Krug

Currently on a national co-headlining tour with ACL veteran Beck, Cage The Elephant is one of rock’s biggest live acts, and the band makes their highly-anticipated ACL debut on the heels of their recently released fifth studio album Social Cues. Produced by John Hill (Santigold, Florence + The Machine, Portugal. The Man, tUnE-yArDs), Social Cues is the follow up to their 2015 GRAMMY®-winning Tell Me I’m Pretty for Best Rock Album.  The acclaimed Social Cues is garnering raves with Rolling Stone calling it “their best album yet” and The Chicago Sun-Times saying “the band has pushed their sonic boundaries further and created their most personal record to date.”  The majority of the material on Social Cues was written during the unraveling of frontman Matt Shultz’s marriage. In order to make sense of such a difficult experience, he explored the hidden recesses of his psyche, creating characters to tell different parts of his personal story. He explains, “when I’m creating, I try to put myself in a reactive state of improvisational thought. I let images just arise in my mind and wait for it to evoke an emotional response and then when it does, I know I’m on to something.” Deeply inspired by punk music, brothers Brad and Matt Shultz began playing music in their Bowling Green, KY high-school with fellow students Jared Champion and Daniel Tichenor. Shortly after forming the band, they made the bold move to London to launch their career. Their self-titled 2008 debut album generated international attention, catapulting them up the Billboard Alternative and Rock charts and achieving Platinum certification. Cage The Elephant has released three additional studio albums – 2011’s Thank You, Happy Birthday, the Gold-certified Melophobia in 2013 and 2015’s Tell Me I’m Pretty. They have had 7 Billboard #1 singles with 11 singles landing in the Billboard Top 10 and digitally have a combined 1.5 billion streams worldwide. Cage The Elephant is lead singer Matt Shultz, rhythm guitarist Brad Shultz, drummer Jared Champion, bassist Daniel Tichenor, lead guitarist Nick Bockrath and keyboardist Matthan Minster.  

Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast episodes will air on PBS later this year as part of ACL’s upcoming milestone Season 45.