The award for most climate-discordant sounds during the first weekend of Austin City Limits Music Festival goes to the Japanese House, without a doubt.
The British chill-pop outfit, led by Amber Bain, pulled in an impressive crowd for an early-afternoon set. No surprise: They sold out their Parish show earlier this year and had to be moved to the larger Scoot Inn. The audience at ACL Fest’s VRBO stage on Sunday stuck it out in the kind of weather made for drippin’, not a dry forehead in the bunch.
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Bain toasted her fans to the virtues of hydration while weaving a pretty set of gentle tunes; the sound could almost convince you that you’d traveled through time to next week, after Austin’s rumored cold front is supposed to hit.
“Lilo” was a sway fest; “We Talk All the Time” had people hitting every beat as their heels rocked back and forth. A stripped-down “Saw You In a Dream” gave off mild Cranberries vibes. Late in the set, cloud cover rolled in for “You Seemed So Happy.” Was that … did she … make that happen?
The band’s woozy, echoing guitars approximated a chill in the air. The drums crisp-crunched like leaves that had seen better days. Listening to the Japanese House is like being in a watercolor; it’s not hard to get the appeal. No high highs, no moments of lightning, no hurdles jumped. Just one big, nice, gentle brushstroke to get you through the daylight.
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