ACL Live Shot: Noah & the Whale

More Mumford than Barenaked Ladies and endearingly so

Cute alert! The Whalers at Zilker Park, 10.6.13
Cute alert! The Whalers at Zilker Park, 10.6.13 (by John Anderson)

Though its albums consistently place in the Top 10 in its native UK, Noah & the Whale has yet to make any kind of impact on the American charts or radio. Of course, old-school sources matter little in an Internet world, and a substantial crowd gathered in front of the Honda stage for the band’s Zilker coming-out party on Sunday at ACL Fest.

Though the Twickenham quintet began as a clever indie-folk outfit with connections to the same scene that produced Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling, it’s evolved into a more expansive outfit, with smooth melodies, rich arrangements, and an emphasis on leader Charlie Fink’s engaging songs – sort of a British approximation of American heartland rock.

The band appropriately took the stage with “Tonight’s the Kind of Night,” a song blessed with a sense of possibility and optimism tailor-made for a festival crowd. Indeed, a similar theme pervaded “Waiting for My Chance to Come,” “Give It All Back,” and “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.,” all of which emphasized triumph over adversity.

It would all be too much if not for a modest sincerity that prevents the Whale’s performances from coming anywhere near over-the-top. The band didn’t always strike gold – the heavily cheered early single “2 Atoms in a Molecule” demonstrated how closely the band escaped being Barenaked Ladies II, while “Give a Little Love” choked on its own sap – but midtempo anthems “Blue Skies,” “Lifetime,” and “5 Years Time” rode the twin virtues of savvy craft and plentiful heart home to Breakthroughville.

For more ACL Fest coverage, see For photo galleries from the fest, see

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More ACL Fest 2013
The Rain Can't Stop the Music
The Rain Can't Stop the Music
UPDATE: ACL acts including Mowglis make alternate plans

Richard Whittaker, Oct. 13, 2013

ACL Live Shot (Second Weekend): The Cure
ACL Live Shot (Second Weekend): The Cure
Robert Smith summons the rain

Doug Freeman, Oct. 13, 2013

More by Michael Toland
Amigo the Devil Album Review
Amigo the Devil Album Review
Born Against (Liars Club/Regime Music Group)

April 23, 2021

New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

April 9, 2021


Noah and the Whale, ACL Fest 2013, Charlie Fink, Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling, Barenaked Ladies

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle