Listen to Austin 360 Radio

ACL Fest review: The Shouting Matches

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Eric Pulsifer

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

Did you know the guy from Bon Iver is a blues rock band called the Shouting Matches? It seems most didn’t know (or perhaps just didn’t care) as the audience for the Shouting Matches, the final band playing the Bud Light Stage Saturday night, was shockingly sparse.

Justin Vernon, neckbeard enthusiast and the high-flying, heart-breaking voice behind Bon Iver, was joined on stage by the other two members of the Shouting Matches trio: Megafaun’s Phil Cooke and Peter Wolf Crier’s Brian Moen. Together the three wore sunglasses at night and played a set of seven-minute rock outs to classic blues-steeped garage rock a la Tom Petty or early Rolling Stones. With the Shouting Matches, Vernon seems to have loosened up — sporting mirror aviators and a denim shirt unbuttoned to halfway down his chest, playing guitar solos on his knees and serving up a cover of the late JJ Cale’s slow-simmered “Crazy Mama.”

Vernon, whose résumé also includes membership in the soft-rock group Gayngs and the experimental Volcano Choir and collaborations with everyone from Kanye West to the Blind Boys of Alabama, Poliça, Land of Talk and saxophonist Colin Stetson — clearly doesn’t have many other hobbies besides working with other musicians. Good for us.

While Vernon is the easy selling point here, Bon Iver this is not. Vernon has traded his sorrowful, soulful falsetto for a honky-tonk boogie with electric organ and guitar solos in every song. Vernon only really flexed his signature muppety falsetto once on “I Need A Change,” which sparked hoots and whistles from the crowd. This was a whole new bag and hopefully one that more people will be able to check out next weekend.