ACL Live Shots
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Sept. 23, 2011
Gillian WelchZilker Park, Sept. 17
Understanding the deep-rooted chemistry between Gillian Welch and David Rawlings doesn't start by watching their instruments, although their playing is picking perfection. Nor does it lie in their voices, where the gentle interplay of harmonies captures something natural and timeless. No, an appreciation of Welch and Rawlings' two-decade-long collaboration begins at their boots, the subtly shuffled rhythm of gentle stomps working in and out of time together. Together, their feet slide with an intimacy and coyness, intensely personal and yet tethered in tandem, Rawlings' black heels digging into the ground to Welch's soft slide-toeing of her brown boots. The intensity they created together was enough to overcome Skrillex's techno barrage on the acoustic tent, which delayed the Nashville, Tenn., duo's emergence by 20 minutes and earned their ire. Still, from the opening burn of "Tear My Stillhouse Down" through harrowing new numbers "Scarlet Town" and "Tennessee" to a rousing closing double-shot of "Miss Ohio" and "I'll Fly Away," the pair proved that even amid "acoustic music hell," they operate on a different plane.