North Carolina indie-pop band the Rosebuds faced a good-news/bad-news situation as they began their set on the Miller Lite stage at ACL Fest early Saturday afternoon.
Bad news: The fest’s hour-late start on account of puddle-speckled grounds meant they had a noticeably smaller crowd. Good news: At least their 1:30 p.m. start-time was just late enough to avoid the cancellation that a few bands who started earlier suffered.
Bad news: The puddles weren’t enough to create the muddy mosh pit that singer-keyboardist Kelly Crisp was hoping for. Good news: The overcast skies and cool weather were a fine fit for the moody nature of the band’s sound, more so than bright sunny skies would have been.
Bad news: They were up against the Texas-Oklahoma football game showing in the adjacent Barton Springs Beer Hall. Good news: With the Horns trailing, guitarist-singer Ivan Howard noted that "this is probably better than what’s going on in that Texas football game, you know what I’m saying?"
All in all, the gig — the Rosebuds’ last of their current tour behind their new Western Vinyl release "Sand + Silence," worked out just fine. The sparse crowd at the start of their set more than doubled in size over the next hour, and fans sang along loudly when they played the single "Get Up Get Out" from their 2007 Merge Records album "Night of the Furies."
Backed by a strong supporting cast of drummer Rob Lackey, guitarist Brian Weeks and Dallas bassist Daniel Hart, leaders Howard and Crisp delivered a strong set of songs that cast alluring melodic spells but kept the vocals and lyrics squarely out front. Tracks such as "Esse Quam Videri" and "In my Teeth" from the new album stood out.
Best of all was "Give Me a Reason," with straightforward, easily relatable lyrics that Howard delivered with a voice that recalled New Wave’s heyday cast upon a more modern musical backdrop. While the Rosebuds rose up from the same Merge Records scene that spawned Superchunk a decade earlier, in many ways their music relates more to an even further-back era of North Carolina pop, as Howard’s singing sometimes brings to mind that of Doug McMillan from mid-’80s Raleigh band the Connells.
At the set’s end, band members exchanged hugs all around, seeming at peace with their afternoon in the park to wrap up the tour. The Horns may not have pulled it out next door, but for the Rosebuds, good news carried the day.