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ACL Fest review: Delta Rae

Joe Gross

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 5, 2013

You can tell a lot about a band when something goes wrong. Smart bands know that when a member gets sick, it’s a chance to change things up a bit. Delta Rae rose to the occasion Saturday afternoon on the Bud Light stage at ACL. As soon as the group took the stage, guitarist Ian Hölljes said that lead singer Elizabeth Hopkins, though on stage, would not be singing as she blew out a tonsil (ouch— you can do that?!?!). This meant that the “three blondes,” as the guitarist put it (Ian, pianist Eric Hölljes and singer Brittany Hölljes, and yes, they are siblings) had to take all the vocals. This also meant that they didn’t do their “hit,” as it were, a song called “If I Loved You” as it was in a lower register that perhaps Brittany couldn’t hit.

But man, the Durham, North Carolina band gave it their all, ripping though what could have been too-polite folk rock. With Hopkins relegated to tambourine and smacking a big bass drum, four-part harmonies were boilded to deft three-part harmonies.

“Is There Anyone Out There” and “What You Thinkin Bout, Baby?” still moved and popped. And their cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” was terrific, even if the three couldn’t quite hit the high notes with as much force as Buckingham and Nicks (or perhaps they changed the key slightly). Either way, nice job, guys.