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ACL Live Shot: Alabama Shakes

Zilker Park, Oct. 12

Reviewed by Abby Johnston, Fri., Oct. 19, 2012

ACL Live Shot: Alabama Shakes
Photo by Jana Birchum

All was quiet on the Barton Springs stage front. Due to flaws in the sound engineering, the massive lump of people seemed to overpower the typically unhushed tones of the much buzzed Athens, Ala., quartet Alabama Shakes. Despite the technical gaff, 23-year-old Brittany Howard took the stage with gusto, quipping the sea of spectators on their well-being, then chiding them for not asking about hers. "I'm always alright," she laughed. The set list was predictable, considering the band's fledgling state and only one album to draw from. Howard stole the show with her rasp – a curious mix of Tune-Yards' Merrill Garbus and Southern rock belle Janis Joplin. She howled her way through the majority of the tracks from Boys & Girls, highlighting Fifties doo-wop inspired "I Found You" and the love ballad march "Rise to the Sun," where she was joined by the horn section of Brooklyn Afrobeat band Antibalas. B-side "Mama" sent the crowd for dancing shoes, tapping deep into the blues-rock aesthetic – just hooky enough to get you moving, and just dirty enough to keep you there.

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