ACL Live Shot: The Relatives
Zilker Park, Oct. 12
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Oct. 19, 2012
After toiling for several years in near obscurity during the Seventies, then splitting up by the end of that decade, the Relatives reformed in 2009. Now the Dallas congregation is unlike any gospel band around. From nonstop psychedelic soul to gaudy blue suits and yellow silk shirts to go with the slip-and-slide dance moves, the Relies' frontline vocal quintet bring a level of excitement to the stage that's exhilarating. Starting with "Let Your Light Shine," which rumbled for 10 minutes, the Relatives were unapologetic about sharing their influences, be it the Isley Brothers, or Motown acts like the Temptations and the Four Tops. Even then, their spiritual side dominated, whether acid-tinged like "Don't Let Me Fall," or on the jungle groove meets the second line march of "Let's Rap." The latter, as lead vocalist Gean West explained, was far ahead of its time when recorded in the early Seventies. Maybe the world wasn't ready for the Relatives when they first formed, but today they combine sweat, grit, and a righteous musicality in a manner that's unequaled.