By Peter Mongillo
Editor’s note: This article was originally published July 17, 2013
"It’s been a while, hasn’t it," Belle & Sebastian front man Stuart Murdoch asked the crowd about half way through the band’s set ACL Live Tuesday night. The Scottish band, touring in support of an upcoming b-sides and rarities release, "The Third Eye Centre," played to a full house at the 2,750-person capacity theater, offering a sampling of songs from their expansive catalog.
The night began with an opening set from Portland band Blitzen Trapper, who broke onto the national scene in 2007 with their album "Wild Mountain Nation" and have since moved away from the the noisier sound of that album toward folk and country. Much of their set on Tuesday, they channeled the Band, with drawn-out, country-influenced jams.
Murdoch and company — an outfit that included as many as thirteen people (not counting dancers from the audience) on stage at various points — moved from rock to pop to folk and back throughout the evening. "The Model" stretched out with strings; the 60s pop of "To Be Myself Completely," from the band’s 2005 album "The Life Pursuit," lit up the room.
Murdoch stopped at several points to address the crowd, making a point about the importance of rain and joking about having a seven year itch that drew them back to Austin. He sat down for a quiet, folky moment on "Piazza, The New York Catcher" and led the band, drenched in red lights, on crowd favorite "If You’re Feeling Sinister."
"The Boy With Arab Strap" ignited a dance party in the venue, and for one group of fans, on stage. Later, things calmed for a bit as Murdoch began "Judy and the Dream of Horses" alone with an acoustic guitar, a moment broken as the rest of the band joined. For the encore, "The Blues Are Still Blue" (from "The Life Pursuit," which hasn’t been on recent setlists) and the warm farewell of "Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying," two well-known songs from different points in the band’s career, both connecting with a welcoming crowd.