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Cage The Elephant and Tank and The Bangas galvanize ACL Season 45

Austin City Limits spotlights thrilling live bands in a new installment featuring rock giants Cage The Elephant, one of music’s biggest live acts. The hour also introduces a 2020 “Best New Artist” GRAMMY nominee, New Orleans breakout act Tank and the Bangas. 

Hailing from Kentucky, the Nashville-based six-piece Cage The Elephant perform tracks from their acclaimed fifth album Social Cues, alongside career highlights in a stellar, hit-filled set. Charismatic lead singer/live wire Matt Shultz takes the stage in a signature makeshift outfit: elbow-length blue gloves, blue tights adorned with women’s lace underwear, headphones and goggles. A wardrobe rack and a trunk filled with props sit onstage amidst the amplifiers, as the shape-shifting frontman changes outfits with each song. “It’s a lot of work wearing all these different personalities,” says Shultz, while seamlessly delivering a seven-song set of his ubiquitous alternative-rock hits. Opening with the new wave-heavy smash “Broken Boy,” Shultz, known for his wild antics, stalks the stage in a can’t-look-away performance. Reaching back to 2015’s GRAMMY-winning Tell Me I’m Pretty for “Cold Cold Cold,” Shultz changes into fluorescent yellow fishermen’s gear, and ventures into the audience, sprinting into the bleachers and sliding down the steps backward on his head. Without missing a beat, the hit parade continues with melodic charmer “Trouble,” as the crowd sings along with every word; an iconic slide guitar riff next signals the 2008 breakthrough hit “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked,” as Shultz dons a fishnet face mask and climbs onto the P.A. for the Cage classic. The band closes out with radio smash “Come a Little Closer,” turned into a raucous, audience participation anthem.

“Matt Shultz takes the prize for the most wardrobe changes in a single show in ACL history,” laughs ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Who knew? Nobody knows quite what to expect from Cage The Elephant, and that’s a big part of why their fans love them so much.”

photo by Scott Newton

New Orleans five-piece R&B, funk and hip-hop outfit Tank and the Bangas shine in a radiant ACL debut featuring songs from the 2019 major label debut Green Balloon. A unit where jazz meets hip-hop, soul meets rock, and funk is the heartbeat of all they do, this versatile act came together in 2011 at a NOLA open mic event, and got propelled into the national limelight when they unanimously won NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest in 2017. The Big Easy band takes viewers on a handclapping, swaying, joyous ride through its world. Former slam poet and magnetic lead singer Tank Ball shifts from a lilting sing-song to deep and forceful rapping on set opener “Spaceships.” The Bangas keep the music rolling and solos flying as Tank unleashes her powerful vocal on “Ripperton Love,” in tribute to R&B legend Minnie Ripperton. On the soulful meditation “Hot Air Balloon,” Ball explores her elastic voice as the band provides an other-worldly soundscape building to a fiery sax solo. Set-closer “The Brady’s” has it all: sweet harmonies, crashing drums, rock guitar and relentless groove, anchored by Tank’s colorful vocal stylings.

“Tank and the Bangas radiate joy, and their set is nothing but a musical joy ride,” says Lickona. “The world needs Tank and the Bangas more now than ever.”

As always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook and Twitter pages or sign up for our newsletter for more ACL info. Join us next week for another new episode, featuring Grammy-nominated pop newcomer Billie Eilish. 

Episode Recap Featured New Broadcast News Uncategorized

Mitski and Rainbow Kitten Surprise bring fresh sounds to ACL 45

Austin City Limits showcases a pair of innovators in a captivating double bill: acclaimed indie songwriter and performer Mitski in a rare television performance and eclectic alt-rockers Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Critically acclaimed as the vanguard of indie rock, Japanese-born American Mitski Miyawaki performs songs from her stunning fifth album Be the Cowboy alongside career highlights in her ACL debut. The singer-songwriter pulls the curtain back on her emotionally raw songs in a spellbinding 8-song set backed by her 4-piece band. The innovative artist has a singular performance style that plays out like conceptual art; the stage is set with a white wooden table and chair, basic props that are repurposed as a platform, a screen and a shield as the show unfolds. Wearing black shorts, knee pads and dance shoes, and armed with a stone-cold stare, Mitski moves slowly, deliberately, opening with the passionate, throbbing “I Will,” from her 2014 debut Bury Me At Makeout Creek, climbing atop the prop table victoriously at the song’s climax. With velvety tones and incisive poetry, she raises her voice on love and loneliness, coaxing the rapt audience to enter the darkest parts of her mind, to swirl in her insecurities, to stand at her side as she vanquishes residual longing from love gone wrong. On her knees on the table as guitarist (and longtime producer) Patrick Hyland strums the chords to the anthem “Your Best American Girl,” from her 2016 breakout Puberty 2, Mitski rides the gorgeous swells of sound, whipping her hair, before delivering a gut-wrenching performance of “I Bet on Losing Dogs” that leaves her curled in a fetal position on top of the table. The performance is a meticulously detailed exercise in vulnerability and cathartic release, for one of the most compelling performances ever on the ACL stage.

“Performance is as much a part of Mitski’s show as the songs are – maybe even more so,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “I guarantee that if you’re a longtime fan of ACL,  you’ve neve seen anything quite like this.”

Nashville-based five-piece Rainbow Kitten Surprise formed at Appalachian State University in 2013 and make their ACL debut drawing heavily from their acclaimed third album How To: Friend, Love, Freefall.  Opening with the fan-favorite “Hide,” the song is amplified by singer Sam Melo’s soulful vocals and bitter cries of “You better hide your love!” The high-spirited alt-rockers deliver a blissed-out free-for-all, with charismatic frontman Melo engaging in unpredictable bursts of physical expression, from high kicks to swirling twirls to near-leaps into the crowd and bassist/sparkplug Charlie Holt often mirroring his jumps and dips. This joyful vitality and powerful camaraderie infuse the music’s kaleidoscopic sonic palette with inventive arrangements and indelible melody. Set highlights include “Cocaine Jesus,” augmented by a cappella harmonies and “When It Lands,” an ambitious, multi-movement composition that showcases each member’s talents. Melo is behind the piano as he croons the intro to the dramatic “Holy War,” before retaking the mic at center stage for the tumbling folk of set-closer “Painkillers.” 

photo by Scott Newton

“If you haven’t experienced seeing Rainbow Kitten Surprise, you are missing something in your life,” said Lickona. “The combo of jump kicks, their original electro-folk sound and ghostly harmonies will carry you away to psychedelic Neverland.”

As always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook and Twitter pages or sign up for our newsletter for more ACL info. Join us next week for another new episode, featuring wild-eyed rockers Cage the Elephant and eclectic R&B ensemble Tank & The Bangas.