As the Austin City Limits Music festival raises in profile and caters to top-tier headliners, its daytime real estate grows overrun with their opening acts. And these days they boast well-managed Spotify profiles, which have enjoyed one big streaming single, and represent an era of pop built to thrive when it can play quietly in perpetuity at a tech startup’s office or boutique hotel.
Sweden husband-and-wife folk duo Flora Cash, comprised of Minnesota native Cole Randall and met-on-SoundCloud collaborator Shpresa Lleshaj, is touring with fellow ACL artists Judah and the Lion, and performs just the sort of internationally pleasant, vaguely written stuff you won’t bother to turn off.
“I’m not trying to make excuses I’m just trying to make some meaning,” Randall sang on “They Own This Town.”
He’s good at that.
Like Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts,” Flora and Cash’s “You’re Somebody Else” has risen in stock and become an American hit two years after its release. Flora and Cash did it by getting a licensing deal for an ad in Mexico, and then a signal-boost from Pandora, and then onto the top of the adult alternative charts, baby.
Saturday at the American Express Stage, the band rolled out March’s “Press” EP and played moody duets in hoodies. Backed by a wired-for-piping-in-samples drummer and a multi-instrumentalist pumping out cold and harsh beats, ballads like “You Love Me" were evocative and punchy live.
Sometimes Randall would bring out a maroon Fender Telecaster to accent the canned tracks.
It sprinkled and became windy during “Pharaoh,” and Randall chimed in on the cold weather relative to how hot it was last week at Zilker Park. It’s been commonplace onstage banter this weekend, but the charismatic couple kept it going.
“I’m not teaching them any cursing words,” Lleshaj said as she coached patrons on how to say “cheers” in Swedish. She later showed off her moonwalking talent, apparently unplanned. Her pep talk was slightly at odds with their next song, the melodramatic and soulful breakup ballad “I Wasted You.”
Ditto “Missing Home,” which featured dueling, boy-band-ballad verses and soaring “whoas.” The band said it was written two years ago, was recently released, and was (perhaps obviously) about being homesick.
“Call your mom today,” Lleshaj said afterward. “It’s important.”
Before the closing hit, Randall said that “You’re Somebody Else” was about anxiety and depression and the strain it put on their marriage.
“It meant a lot of things to a lot of different people,” Randall said. “We didn’t expect this song to take on the life that it did.”
Sometimes a viral song doesn’t need a gimmick to make a connection.