Saturday at the Austin Ventures stage, the bass drum flatly donned "George Ezra," in clear and friendly font. "Ezra" flashed across fluorescent blocks. A person next to me wore a shirt that read "free spirit."
The precocious happy-trees balladeer Ezra donned shades at dusk and a cool, on-brand white T-shirt. I briefly considered copying and pasting a Wikipedia entry, filing that, and then finding a spot near the Foo Fighters.
Every micro-generation needs its own blue-eyed soul heartthrob. Its own U.K.-sourced Paolo Nutini who writes songs like "Listen To the Man" that are terrific for putting toddlers to bed with their plucky crooning and hearty optimism. Whom people elevator pitch you with "look this guy–wow–you hear his voice and you’re floored by what he looks like."
Because he’s a white dude who is terrific at co-opting soul music and then selling it. That’s a genre reality, sure, but it’s modern pop’s most glaring example of radio inequality since Iggy Azalea.
Like Selena, he sings about dreaming of lovers with aptitude and grace. He got his crowd of tired and hungry patrons through a polished, hammy set. He can wave off his four-piece backing band and deliver a Bob Dylan cover and lean on his breezy chops.
Ezra connected with a large multilingual audience at ACL too. His songs are universal adapters and there is beauty in keeping it simple and pitching a broad tent. It’s kind of like how my mom affectionately perfected her English with "Three’s Company" re-runs.
"There’s a video that you’ll love, I’ve been s**t on by a bird two seconds into it," he said of a viral video going around YouTube that he said is critical of his music. He urged those of us "dragged along" to check it out.
Ezra is disarmingly self-aware. He’s a showman who, at 19, has impressive measurables. He closes with expertly arranged smash single "Budapest," one that stunned this spring on "Saturday Night Live."