Photo by Andrew Lipovsky, NBC
Jimmy Fallon brought his wild abandon to Austin (specifically the UT campus), this week, and it was every bit of a burnt-orange filtered rootin’-tootin’ good time as you’d expect. The fringe flayed, Big Bertha banged, and McConaughey was alright, alright, alright.
The energy was akin to the world’s biggest-budget pep rally. Down to the 8-set of pyrotechnics, everything about this show screamed “Everything is Bigger in Texas.” And to great appeal! The energy of the cheerleaders, band, mascots, and other spirit students was matched cheer-for-happy-tear by the student-only (save press) audience, which capped the Bass Concert Halls 3,000 person capacity. After the great endorphin rush left the stage, a team of producers swarmed in on their knees to pop the hundreds of orange and white balloons that had descended from the ceiling only moments ago in a fashion that can only be compared to a Japanese game show. It was a truly fascinating thing to see, even if only by my standards.
Matthew McConaughey (who also appeared as the guest on the recent Austin episode of NPR’s Ask Me Another), was the paragon of what a UT Minister of Culture
should be, giving a McConaughey-style sermon on the Little Big City and premiering his new mantra “Keep Austin Austin.” Texas Home Reno Magnates Chip and Joanna Gaines came on to plug Joanna’s new book and the launch of the couple’s TV network. Gucci Mane, fitted in dripping diamonds and a smart red and black blazer, offered the origins of his moniker (spoiler: it’s an old family name, dating back to WWII), and performed “Move Me,” from Woptober II, which came out last month. The audience screamed praise at literally everything all of the guests said. And who can blame the literal thousands of college kids getting to take a free break from their impending finals to just enjoy themselves in the presence of such titans of entertainment?
Easily the biggest win of the night was watching three unsuspecting UT students being called up on stage to, what appeared to be, surprised with a decked-out Samsung gift bag, only to find out they’d actually won Samsung paying off THEIR STUDENT DEBT! YES Y’ALL! THEIR STUDENT DEBT! And that’s the wholesome high note we’ll leave this on. The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon airs at 10:30 CT.
-Taylor Wallace, Weeknight Host
@ Austin City Limits Taping 8.28.19
All photos republished courtesy of KLRU/Austin City Limits
When Austin musicians are fortunate enough to get their first Austin City Limits call, you never quite know what to expect. For many, it’s their first national television taping, and the import hangs like Texas humidity in the room. Plus, they’re playing in front of an audience peppered with friends and family. It’s enough to make the most practiced musicians jumpy.
In many ways, the Black Pumas are a happy accident. Adrian Quesada is one of the city’s most gifted musicians and producers, but he doesn’t sing. His various projects over the years (Brownout, Ocote Soul Sounds, Echocentrics, etc.) have featured a lot of instrumentals, and many different guest vocalists over his patented hypno-grooves. None stuck – until he heard Eric Burton, an LA transplant who was busking downtown on Congress not so long ago. Burton’s powerful voice fit Quesada’s sound like Cinderella’s glass slipper. Even better, Burton was also bringing along his own material. They formed a potent partnership.
After one of the longest buildups in music history, the Pumas finally released their debut album on June 21st, and promptly hit the road. They left Austin a special band. They came back even better. And aided by three sweat-soaked local warm-up shows at the Mohawk, they hit the ACL stage with the swagger of James Brown at the Apollo.
From the beginning, Burton commanded your attention, prowling around the stage and into the audience, his voice channeling the magnetism of Marvin Gaye (even down to the ‘Let’s Get It On’ era red hat), whisper quiet at times, then swelling to fill the room. Aside from some old-school audience patter (“Can you feel the love on the left side?”), Burton said little, briefly acknowledging it was a special night only late into the set. And for locals accustomed to Quesada’s backbone work from the sidelines, seeing him step into the limelight with sonic guitar bursts proved exhilarating.
After a somewhat meandering opener, the band locked in. They took their time building each song, intensity coming in waves, while the elongated arrangements allowed them to dig deep inside the material. It was soulful, simmering. And surprising. Their best-known songs – “Black Moon Rising”, “Colors” – appeared early in the set, while deep cuts like “Oct 33”, “Know You Better” and “Stay Gold” earned rapt ovations. The band flowed from one durable groove to the next, and by the set’s end, when it was hard to imagine wanting anything more, they returned for one more song – a psychedelic take on ‘Eleanor Rigby’. Exiting all smiles, they left no doubt they had done the job they came to do.