“You could be partying, but you chose to be crying,” Moses Sumney said to his audience at ACL Fest on Sunday. “My people.”
The otherworldly soul singer definitely hung a different kind of musical constellation in Zilker Park’s skies, playing in the Tito’s Handmade Vodka tent opposite big-stage schedule mates Janelle Monae and X Ambassadors. Behind a mic stand that looked more like an Martian tower than a mic stand, Sumney led his audience into a falsetto fugue state. At any given point, a clarinet, a violin or a synth hum trailed his comet voice. The California artist (a collaborator of both Solange and Sufjan Stevens, and it shows), held his glassy tones so long that they bent through time and dimension, “2001: A Space Odyssey” style.
For example, Sumney stretched “Make Out In My Car” (the subject of which he said “I’ve never tried it but the reviews are great”) into a steamy haze, like he was stirring caramel on a stove, careful to bubble but not burn. “Rank and File,” a marvel of looped hand claps and yelps, built from a chilly breeze to blanketing blizzard. And a cover of early Bjork track “Come To Me” seemed to send several in the crowd to search for fainting couches.
Sumney sent his stellar band out for closer “Plastic.” Just a guitar and him, his dark shades finally in his pocket. “I know what it is to be broken and be bold,” Sumney sang. “Tell you that my silver is gold.”
There’s a lot of life to face outside the gates. The festival weekend -- long as it is, hot as it is, soaked out and smoked out as it is -- needs its respites, too. Sumney was good for the soul.
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