Listen to Austin 360 Radio

ACL Fest: Trombone Shorty is the big, bad brass superstar we all need

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Perhaps you didn’t know you needed a big bad brass superstar in your life. Perhaps you’ve never been sitting around listening to music and thought to yourself, ‘You know what this song needs? More trombone.” For the thousands of fans who crowded the Honda stage to catch Trombone Shorty’s mid-afternoon set — the best throw, down, shake your body, sweat it out dance party of the festival so far — it’s abundantly clear. More trombone is absolutely what we needed to make our lives complete.

The fact that his band was joined by members of the Longhorn band (and Bevo) in the early part of his set certainly helped to endear the crowd to him. The energy in the crowd shot up to eleven with the hype injection from Longhorn nation, but Shorty and his crew effortlessly maintained the excitement long after the Horns left the stage.

Shorty’s backing band combines the funkiest part of a NOLA brass band, the low end saxophones, with straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll from bass, guitar and drums. Shorty himself alternates between trumpet and trombone, and also spends a fair amount of time singing with fierce, furious soul. He’s also the best kind of band leader. Generous with solo time and caught up in the brilliant blasts of sound the top notch musicians he surrounds himself with throw down, he spent a good part of the set dancing wildly, moon-walking, spinning around and shaking his hips.

It’s an irresistible formula, music that absolutely insists you dance joyfully with all your heart. Highlights are hard to pull, although “Fire and Brimstone” was incredibly smoky. The entire set was a blissful exuberant dance party that built to an electrifying conclusion as Trombone Shorty led the crowd in a sing along of “Do To Me” then climbed into the crowd for a climatic, ecstatic breakdown. Many other sets have been and will be incredible and moving this weekend, but it’s hard to believe anyone will top Trombone Shorty in terms of straight up fun.

So yeah, maybe you didn’t know you needed a big, bad brass superstar in your life, but you totally, totally do.