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ACL Fest review: MS MR

Eric Webb

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 6, 2013

And stars are born.

Hypnotizing the crowd in a black catsuit and lime-green tresses, MS MR’s Lizzy Plapinger had the AMD stage captivated the moment she stepped out to the droning trance of a guitar. Plapinger and kinetic beat-smith Max Hershenow are responsible for one of the best albums of the year, the dark and bewitching “Secondhand Rapture.”

Rapturous their set was indeed. MS MR translated an atmospheric, foreboding record from the studio to an outdoor festival stage with electrifying panache. Planpinger set the tone when she threw her hands up and yelled “Who came here to party with us on Sunday?”

First song “Bones” allayed any fears that the smoky-vocied Plapinger didn’t have the pipes for the venue. (In fact, she far outsang Haim, who played the same stage Saturday. Who would have thought?) With enviable dance moves, some Taking Back Sunday-esque microphone swinging and even — gasp — pushing the mic stand to the ground, Plapinger shone through the stormy songs she sang. On songs like “No Trace,” there was a sly smile, as if she was committing a crime in broad daylight.

Not to sell Hershenow short. His is the hand that crafted the sonic hurricane on gothic dance tunes like, well, “Hurricane.” (That smash single caused a deafening singalong, as would be expected.) Hershenow’s dance moves put even the best hip-hop hype men to shame. The real treat for an audience that was already eating the set up was seeing the easy chemistry between the two bandmates. A little light choreography amid pelvis grooves and Transylvania synths is enough to make a crowd go wild.

The high point was, without a doubt, a cover of LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yrself Clean.” Transitioning seamlessly out of MS MR’s own “Ash Tree Lane,” the James Murphy hit became a clarion call to move some bodies, an almost cultish experience. Wiry synths, pounding percussion, feelings of reckless abandon and world peace: The present company was the best that you could find.

Late in the set, Plapinger opined of Austin “Why haven’t I lived here earlier in my life?” If the audience is representative of the city itself, we would be glad to have her and her counterpart again and again and again.