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ACL Fest review: True Believers

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By John T. Davis

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 12, 2013

There was good news and bad news at the True Believers’ set on a sweltering Saturday afternoon at the Zilker Tent. The good news is that the band, resurrected last year after their 1980s heyday, has literally never sounded better. They are a benchmark against which guitar-driven rock bands should be measured.

The bad news, as delivered from the stage by Alejandro Escovedo, was that their ACL set might be their last. After re-forming, playing a host of dates and recording new material, individual career and recording obligations might compel the members to concentrate on their own projects, said manager Joe Nick Patoski.

“There’s not another show on the books,” he said. “Everybody’s got schedules and it’s hard to find windows (for TB tours). Without a fat offer, there’s no reason to do it.” That being said, he added, “It was a real pleasure to do it again and do it so well.”

So well, indeed. The three-pronged guitar attack, the glam-meets-slam showmanship of brothers Alejandro and Javier Escovedo, the tongue-in-groove rapport of bassist Danny DeGorio and drummer Rey (cq) Washam (playing hurt after an injured hand cut the band’s set short last week) and the songwriting and musical prowess of Jon Dee Graham put the Troobs—then and now—in a class by themselves.

Kicking off with “Rebel Kind” and plunging headlong through “Lucky Moon,” “She’s Got,” “Who Calls My Name,” “Dedication” (a foot-stomping refutation to the idea that there are no second acts), “The Rain Won’t Help You When It’s Over” and a handful of other tracks, the band wound up with a shredding rendition of “Hard Road.” The sum total was more than chords and verses and backbeats and harmonies—it was heart, soul, blood, family, joy and, yes, hard roads.

The last time? Say it ain’t so.