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Band of Horses brought their guitar army to the big stage at ACL Fest

Band of Horses members Ryan Monroe, from left, Matt Gentling and Ben Bridwell perform on the Lady Bird stage at ACL Fest on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021.

Guitars may not be as dominant in pop music as they once were, with synths and turntables and samples and other sounds having gained ground since the turn of the century. But you wouldn't know it from Band of Horses' set on the Lady Bird stage Sunday at ACL Fest.

Singer-songwriter Ben Bridwell and his four bandmates hit the stage joyously at 4:30 p.m. with a triple-guitar attack that suited their melodic indie-Americana sound to a T. Greeting the Texas crowd with the memorably catchy and geographically appropriate opener "Laredo," the group South Carolina-by-way-of-Seattle band stirred up an hourlong racket that was both tuneful and energetic.

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There's an Austinite in the mix now, too: Ian MacDougall, known for his work with local band Riverboat Gamblers and others, is one of those guitarists, joining Bridwell and guitar-organ player Ryan Monroe on the front line. Holding down the rhythms were bassist Matt Gentling and drummer Creighton Barrett.

Bridwell introduction of MacDougall — to which Ian responded, "What's up y'all? I live off North Loop" — wasn't the only local nod, as Bridwell also sported a ballcap from South Austin bar Little Darlin'. He mentioned that this was the third time they'd played ACL Fest, further underscoring the band's affinity for the city.

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The 12-song set included selections from except 2012's "Mirage Rock." An intriguing curveball was a cover of Brooks & Dunn's 1992 country chart-topper "Neon Moon."

The band returns for a weekend two performance with the same time, day and stage. They'll also play an official ACL Fest Late Night show on Saturday, Oct. 9, at Stubb's with local U.K. transplant Jade Bird opening.

READ: Billie Eilish whispered. ACL Fest roared. Austin saw pop history.