News Taping Recap

Punch Brothers debut on ACL

“We’ve wanted to do this for so long!” declared Chris Thile before launching into the first number of the Punch Brothers’ Austin City Limits taping. While it was the band’s first time on ACL, it was not the first for Thile, who has graced our stage three times before with his former group Nickel Creek and as part of Dolly Parton’s backing ensemble. So the Punch Brothers show was a debut by an ACL veteran.

Paradoxes aside, the quintet killed it with their unique take on acoustic music. Set up with bluegrass instrumentation but just as influenced by jazz, classical music and pop as anything old-timey, the Punch Brothers performed a stunning array of tunes that slipped through the fingers of specific genres like hyperactive toddlers. From the stop-start rhythms of “Who’s Feeling Young Now?” and “Hundred Dollars” to the straight pop melodies of “New York City” and “Don’t Get Married Without Me,” the band delivered a restless, intensely creative set of songs.

Tradition didn’t get short shrift, either – the instrumental “Watch’at Breakdown” and a cover of Jimmie Rodgers’ “Brakeman’s Blues” delivered plenty of old-fashioned bluegrass thrills. The band combined their experimental and traditional sides midshow by seguing a judiciously dissonant cover of Radiohead’s “Kid A” into a blazing take on Gillian Welch’s “Wayside/Back in Time” .

The band returned to the stage for an encore with heartfelt and fun tributes to recently fallen heroes – Earl Scruggs with the banjo master’s “Groundspeed” and Levon Helm with the Band’s “Ophelia.” Throughout the show the band used their instrumental virtuosity only for good, never soloing to the point of tedium – their taste was as impeccable as their musicianship. The Punch Brothers’ set was as fine an example of unclassifiable contemporary acoustic music as anyone could hope for.

“When you start a band, this is all you really want to be able to do – play Austin City Limits,” noted  Thile halfway through the show, as he cited the Season 15 show with Strength in Numbers as a catalyst to his desire to make music. We’re always happy to host great musicians who’ve grown up with ACL. Hopefully future generations will be inspired by the Punch Brothers when the episode airs  this fall on your local PBS station. Check our Facebook and Twitter pages for more info as the year progresses.

News Taping Recap

Bon Iver’s intimate pop anthems mesmerize

When Justin Vernon created the acclaimed For Emma, Forever Ago in his family’s cabin in Medford, Wisconsin in 2008, he probably never thought that his candid creation would lead his band Bon Iver to the Austin City Limits studio. But here he is, playing to a packed house at ACL Live at the Moody Theater.

Joined by eight multi-instrumentalists, Vernon turned his intimate confessionals into orchestral pop anthems that kept the crowd mesmerized. They played all but one song from 2011’s Grammy-winning Bon Iver, Bon Iver, but left plenty of room for gems from For Emma and beyond. Making good use of controlled cacophony on “Perth” and “Creature Fear” and soft-to-loud dynamics on “Calgary” and the hit “Holocene,” the band deftly demonstrated its range and depth. (“Holocene reminds me of driving along the West Coast and feeling so insignificant, but in a good way,” tweeted Miranda S.) Bon Iver pulled back for the folky “Skinny Love” and the lovely “Re: Stacks” (performed by Vernon solo) and revved back up for the catchy “Towers” and the rocking “Blood Bank.”

As if Vernon didn’t already have the audience in the palm of his hand, he appealed to their local pride with what Julia Brash described as an “overwhelmingly beautiful” cover of hometown heroine Patty Griffin’s “Nobody’s Crying,” before engaging them in a mass singalong for “The Wolves.” “All we needed was a campfire,” noted Zackary Wilburn, “and we would have been in that cabin up in Wisconsin!” Bon Iver closed out the night with “For Emma,” in many ways the song that started it all.

“This is the only good, perfect, wonderful music show that we have,” Vernon asserted during the encore. Such high praise makes us blush – we’re as happy to have hosted Bon Iver as its leader was to be here. Bon Iver’s enchanting episode will air in the fall – check with your local PBS station for airdates and showtimes. You can also keep up with Season 38’s progress via Facebook, Twitter and this very blog.

Featured News Taping Announcement

Rodrigo y Gabriela tape Austin City Limits on 5/7

We’ve had our collective eye on Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, who will appear on our stage on May 7, for some time – after all, Austin City Limits has a history of showcasing six-string magic. The pair has been riding high since they took the music world by storm with their self-titled LP back in 2006, raising eyebrows with flamenco takes on thrash metal tunes and forward-thinking originals. Now the duo is touring with C.U.B.A., a 13-piece Cuban orchestra, with whom they recorded their latest record Area 52. The time is right to invite them to their debut ACL performance for a show that’s sure to inspire as much dancing as air guitar.

Keep an eye on the blog, our Facebook page and Twitter feed for news on the public ticket giveaway. We hope to see you there!

Featured Taping Announcement

The Punch Brothers tape Austin City Limits on 5/1

Chris Thile – lead singer and mandolinist of the genre-busting band Punch Brothers, who will tape a show for us on May 1 — is no stranger to the Austin City Limits stage. The virtuoso musician has appeared twice with his former band Nickel Creek and once in Dolly Parton’s backup band. The Grammy–nominated Punch Brothers, which Thile formed six years ago, has released three albums, most recently Who’s Feeling Young Now?, and is currently on a sold-out US tour. The quintet’s boundary-less mix of indie-rock, bluegrass, classical music, jazz, folk, and pop has attracted critical acclaim, a slot opening for Paul Simon, two songs on the new T Bone Burnett–produced Hunger Games album, and a loyal, growing audience, including fellow musicians like Steve Martin, Elton John, and Marcus Mumford. We’re pleased to welcome the Punch Brothers to Austin City Limits.

Keep an eye on the blog, our Facebook page and Twitter feed regularly for news on the public ticket giveaway. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter as well.