Call it the 6:30 sampler: With much of ACL Fest focused on A$AP Rocky’s set opening for headliner Drake on the Samsung Galaxy stage, we took a stroll among the three other acts performing in the same hour and took in a bit of each.
First stop: Rayland Baxter at the BMI Stage. A sweet-voiced singer-songwriter who got some early-career guidance from his dad, former Bob Dylan pedal steel guitarist Bucky Baxter, Rayland struck a pleasant folk-rock groove with his three-piece band that somewhat oddly forewent a bassist (apparently covered by the keyboardist playing a separate board with each hand). As they veered toward a somewhat heavier, bluesier sound, they approached jam-band territory, though Baxter’s new ATO Records disc is more of an indie-folk affair.
Next stop: Alabama Shakes at the Honda Stage. Our Austin360 team took in the modern soul band’s Friday taping of the “Austin City Limits” TV show so a full review seemed superfluous, but it was too tempting not to stop in for at least a short submergence in singer Brittany Howard’s powerful aurora. The west end of the park was jammed with festgoers both standing and in chairs taking in the band’s set, but every moment spent there was worth it, especially the song “Gimme All Your Love.”
Last stop: Jose Gonzalez at the Tito’s Stage. This one was a revelation. The beautiful folk-pop songcraft of Gonzalez and his four-piece backing crew (keyboards, guitar, drums, percussion) filled up the tent-covered space, which was packed with a mix of folks who knew his music and others who, like me, were just discovering it. Good thing, then, that he’s playing both weekends, allowing another chance to catch a full set.