Is there anything more powerful than three women in pants suits singing in unison? Sisters Natalie, Allison and Meegan Closner are Joseph, a Portland, Oregon-based folk-rock band. They harmonize, they sing in round, they rock!
Like the Dixie Chicks or Haim (with a little more of a rock 'n' roll edge), the ladies of Joseph have an immediately engaging stage presence that ties back to their familial bond. Natalie is the eldest, and the band leader—she actually convinced Allison and Meegan, who are twins, to form the trio to help her get over a musical slump. Meegan is the platinum blonde one, and she stands and shakes and sings in the middle, clad in a fire hydrant red jumpsuit, during their Sunday afternoon set on the American Express stage for Austin City Limits Festival. She's not exactly the lead singer, though, as Natalie—the one in a silver rhinestone top—often starts a solo, then figuratively hands off the mic to Meegan, then Allison—the one with the short, Angel Olsen fringe—takes over vocals, for a cool musical chairs effect.
They open the set with "In My Head," an anxious track about over-thinking a relationship to death. It seems less gloomy thanks to the power of the trio. Boy problems don't seem so bad when your girls have got your back. That's quickly followed up by "Green Eyes," the third single of their brand-new album, "Good Luck, Kid." It's a catchy, hooky track that showcases Meegan's range and some fun guitar solos from Natalie. The narrator's lover has green eyes like traffic lights, though to him, they may as well be red. It's a driving, emotional track that stands out as the best of the set.
The girl in front me gets excited for "Presence"—"this is literally the song where I was like, 'I like this'"—which contrasts softer, spoken word verses with a rockin' and rollickin' chorus.
"White Flag," their breakthrough single, is a natural fit for the closer. It's a boot-stomping, chorus-shouting country-adjacent banger that ends with the three sisters clapping in unison and the entirety of the early afternoon audience enthusiastically joining in. While the band's girl power vibe sets them clearly apart, the song "White Flag" is a perfect precursor to that other boot-stompin' rock-folk group, tonight's headliner Mumford and Sons.