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ACL Fest review: Neko Case

Joe Gross

Editor’s note: This article was originally published October 7, 2013

“There will be no quiet songs,” Neko Case said a few tunes into her Sunday set on the Austin Ventures Stage, “for there is jamming.”

Then she all but shrugged: “I respect it.”

Case was referring to Atoms for Peace, blaring behind her on the AMD stage. So the ACL Award for Clean Singing Under Difficult Circumstances must go to Case, whose potentially lovely set was competing with Thom Yorke’s moans and electronic frippery in the distance. It sounded like Case and her crack Americana band were playing with an Atoms for Peace CD emanating from a Range Rover behind her.

She did her darndest to make it work. “Maybe Sparrow” was deft and moving. She grabbed a tambourine and shook it with her fists balled up.

“It’s the toddler in me,” she said by way of explanation before launching into “Red Tide.”

And on came her white Gibson SG for “The Most Tender Place in My Heart” and hearing the band crank was cathartic, a little.

But there was no getting away from the fact that Atoms for Peace was a presence during her set. As Case herself tweeted later, “Dear Flea, I would like to apologize for ruining your bass solo with my loud music. I promise it won’t happen again. Your friend, Neko.”

And then she gets to do it all over again next weekend! Good luck, folks.