ACL Live Shot: Neko Case

Siren overcomes Atoms for Peace

The deck was stacked against Neko Case Sunday night as she closed the Austin Ventures stage while Atoms for Peace’s war machine thundered across the park.

Blue mood: Neko Case and crew Sunday night in Zilker Park
by Jana Birchum

Despite the unfortunate scheduling, Case and her band dove in, starting with “This Tornado Loves You” off 2009’s Middle Cyclone, followed by “Bracing for Sunday,” a track off the singer’s September release, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You.

Together, Case and backup singer-collaborator Kelly Hogan ushered the audience through a collection of songs old and new, with “People Got a Lotta Nerve,” “Deep Red Bells,” and “Maybe Sparrow” interspersed amongst the newer, depression-fueled material, which proved itself to be the evening’s weakest material. One exception was “Night Still Comes,” which found Case bitterly wondering, “If I puked up some sonnets would you call me a miracle?,” a particularly poignant moment given the percussive backdrop of the overwhelmingly masculine headliner.

Despite the competing noise, Case’s band remained tight and professional throughout. Of particular note is a recent addition to the band, guitarist Eric Bachmann, who’s played in Archers of Loaf and Crooked Fingers. While it’s a little bit heartbreaking to see the college-rock icon working as a sideman, the addition of his angular guitar riffs to songs like “Man” helped elevate the material. It would’ve been even better if his guitar hadn’t been buried in the mix.

After thanking the crowd, which had dwindled significantly over the course of the hour, Case gamely commenced an a cappella rendition to “I Wish I Was the Moon,” with the audience cheering her on. “Thanks for sticking with us,” Case said. “We’re gonna go eat a shit ton of food now.”

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