One of the most heartening things about walking around ACL Fest on Sunday was seeing so many people wearing Prince shirts and the Revolution shirts (and Prince and the Revolution shirts). The iconic band, of which Prince was a member during some of his most explosively brilliant years, played at 6 p.m. inside the Tito’s tent to an adoring crowd young and old, who came to live it up and get down to some of the most grooving, party-friendly classics of all time.
With Bobby Z on the drums, Matthew Robert Fink (aka Dr. Fink) and Lisa Coleman both on keyboards, Brown Mark on bass and Wendy Melvoin tearing it up on guitar, the group brought life, love and memories to Zilker Park. They kicked things off strong with “America,” a song whose lyrics (“Keep the children free”) never lose relevance.
Throughout the one-hour set, the energy stayed high as Brown Mark -- decked in a slick white outfit matched by Coleman and Melvoin -- told the crowd “If you feel like dancing, just groove with it.” And the people obliged, through glorious celebratory renditions of some of the band’s greatest and most beloved hits: “Raspberry Beret,” “When Doves Cry,” “1999” (a song with a meaning that has evolved in fascinating ways over the year), “Let’s Go Crazy,” and an emotional singalong to “Purple Rain.” For many of the songs, the band was joined by a vocalist with a killer falsetto (who is hard to identify as he was not mentioned by name during the performance or on any of the band’s social media).
The Revolution is as tight as ever, dancing in synch with one another and maintaining a constant banter with the crowd while rocking out and giving one another plenty of time to shine with individual solos. Brown Mark’s funky bass solo, in particular, was a highlight, and Melvoin shredded so hard that she literally tore her jeans. It was awesome.
Throughout the set, booties were shaking, hands were waving, couples were smiling at each other. I imagine I wasn’t the only one who wished we could party so hard it actually was 1999, a time when Prince was still around. Melvoin’s final urging to the crowd after the band played their last song was to “please, be good to each other” and her message radiated as the sun set over Austin and, I imagine, Prince watched us from above.
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