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ACL Live Shot: Rufus Wainwright

Zilker Park, Oct. 13

Reviewed by Zoe Cordes Selbin, Fri., Oct. 19, 2012

ACL Live Shot: Rufus Wainwright
Photo by Gary Miller

Rufus Wainwright's one-hour set on the headlining Bud Light stage early Saturday afternoon put to shame almost everything that followed it. Cool, cloudy, and warm, the weather matched Wainwright's rich voice and piano chords in elevating the crowd beyond mere grass and lawn chairs. Starting off stunningly a capella with "Candles," the 39-year-old in a flaglike leisure suit burst into a joyful, funky set. Two black female backup singers made all the material impossibly soulful, one of them taking lead on a track written by Wainwright's late mother, Kate McGarrigle. There were a few surprising gaps – where was "California"? – but the set was fairly focused on songs from the recent Out of the Game. Wainwright also covered a Judy Garland song, "The Man That Got Away," which he noted that due to Liza Minnelli's disapproval, he had renamed "The Bitch That Got Away." While most of the set was upbeat festival fare, "The Art Teacher" provided a welcome softer moment. It wasn't lost on the band or crowd that the sun finally came out during Wainwright's set. Sassy but genuine, he noted, "Austin is the live music capital. And I feel it!"

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