ACL Live Shot: Autre Ne Veut
Crooner shouldn’t become a psychologist just yet
By Abby Johnston,
9:25AM, Sun. Oct. 6, 2013
When Arthur Ashin first started making music as R&B alter ego Autre Ne Veut, he was afraid the exposure would influence his graduate work in psychology. If you saw him live on Saturday at ACL, you’ll understand why.
Ashin came out onto the Honda stage wearing basketball shorts, a baggy white shirt, and black Doc Martins with his hat pulled backwards as an extended introduction of “Play by Play” streamed off of his black Macbook. Then he started to sing, and suddenly, Ashin appeared almost manic – pacing, clutching the mic for dear life, and doubling over to retch out the words. All of that commotion, and he still sounded silky smooth.
Delicate, vulnerable vocals on this winter’s Anxiety were reinforced by gruffness, with Ashin often dropping out of falsetto for a full-blown belt. The kind of androgynous crooning on “Ego Free Sex Free” lost its ambiguity as Ashin sounded increasingly masculine to great effect. His foil – one lone singer positioned on the opposite side of the sparse stage – had a bigger role live than on disc.
Her voice worked alongside Ashin’s, matching his power with a smoldering alto. Plus, she provided a semblance of normalcy while the lead carried on. At one point during an extended break, with no soundboard to adjust and just the snap of the drummer, Ashin stared down the crowd, not singing, for a full minute. I shrunk under his gaze from 60 feet back.
An Autre Ne Veut performance won’t be a great advertisement if he decides to become a practicing psychologist, but it’ll keep audiences coming.
For more ACL Fest coverage, see austinchronicle.com/acl. For photo galleries from the fest, see austinchronicle.com/photos.