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Barton Hills Choir gets a boost from Belle & Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch

Peter Blackstock

Starting the Austin City Limits Music Festival off with dozens of singing children from the Barton Hills Choir was a no-brainer even without a bonus.

But after about a half-hour of the kids belting out classics from the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the Beatles (plus some less-obvious choices), the Sculpture Tent really became the early place to be when a sixth-grade choir member gave a boisterous intro to special guest Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian, who play their own festival set later tonight.

It wasn’t a surprise — Murdoch’s participation was previously announced — but it was no less wonderful for that. The performance peaked with four Belle & Sebastian tunes, including one of the band’s early favorites, “Me and the Major.”

The crew closed things out with ringleader Gavin Tabone and Murdoch leading the children through Belle & Sebastian’s “I Didn’t See It Coming,” the kids enthusiastically chanting out the final line: “Make me dance, I want to surrender.” Pretty much everyone in the crowd — parents, siblings, and those on-the-ball enough to have arrived early for the choir’s pre-noon set — felt just that way.

As the kids filed down the steps and off the stage after they finished, Murdoch stood to greet each of them with a high-five. Smiles and laughter and good vibes abounded, kicking the day off about as perfectly as could be imagined.