Durand Jones and the Indications were in a tricky spot Saturday at ACL 2018’s Miller Lite stage. From C-Boys to the Sahara and Skylark lounges, Texas knows revivalist soul. We’ve seen the late, great Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley in recent years across area festivals. We’ve barked along to King Khan and the Shrines sets. We live for South by Southwest day parties that build around a Lee Fields appearance.
Luckily, the seven-piece soul outfit was up on the lesson plan and had plenty of tricks at the ready.
The band, which began at the University of Indiana’s school of music, flipped classical training into DIY basement buzz in the past two years — and it has the goods. Jones is more than just a spin-kicking James Brown impressionist. And he kept our attention Saturday, having to compete with frequent cheering from the adjacent craft beer tent that was playing the Texas-Oklahoma game.
In fact, Lil’Jordan Humphrey caught a go-ahead touchdown during “Is It Any Wonder?” and the Indications didn’t skip a beat.
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“This one’s for all the Tejano people out here,” Jones said before an EJ and the Echoes cover. Keyboardist Steve Okonski soaked songs with lingering chords from his red Nord Electro 5. There were flute solos and dual vocals; it was a celebration of the black American songbook with smart adaptations and riffs.
“I see some of y’all wearing Beto shirts. I like that,” Jones said before dedicating a political song to Curtis Mayfield. “I hope y’all do something about that gerrymandering.”
Fans swayed as a woman’s Canadian flag drifted amid minimal breeze. Jones introduced the players by name before dedicating a “Don’t Let Me Down” Beatles cover to Friday's headliner, Paul McCartney.
The band finished with “Make a Change,” an activist plea for progress. The tense football game drained the crowd, but message received all the same.
PHOTOS: Day 2 at ACL Fest 2018