ACL Live Review: The Comet Is Coming

Prophecy or promise?

Emerging from London’s bubbling jazz scene, the Comet Is Coming assaulted ACL Fest ears, feet, and whole bodies with a captivating elixir of cosmic jazz, funk, and electro inside the Tito’s tent on Friday around dinnertime.

Synth-lord Dan “Danalogue” Leavers on Friday at Zilker Park (Photo by Gary Miller)

While the UK trio certainly draws from the astral oddities of Sixties-era Saturn descendent Sun Ra and his Arkestra, their joyful riot of sound is decidedly forward-looking – and bangin’. They’re the rare jazz-based ensemble that elicits furious head-banging and pogoing.

Keyboardist and synth-lord Dan "Danalogue" Leavers and drummer Max “Betamax” Hallett lay an unshakeable foundation, playing in lock-step to craft an absolutely thumping backbeat. That low-end theory serves as a playground for saxophonist “King” Shabaka Hutchings, who unleashes furious, oft-repeated riffs and blistering solos. At one point, screeching sax and a tornado of keys crescendoed and vanished with a synth bass that dropped like a kick to the sternum.

TCIC focal point “King” Shabaka Hutchings (Photo by Gary Miller)

While improvisational, the set largely pulled from 2019 Impulse LP Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery. In as much as instrumental experimental jazz trios can have hits, the pulsating “Summon the Fire” is that for the Comet Is Coming. A four-minute cut on the album, it seemed to stretch to 20 minutes onstage, although it can be hard to discern where one song ends and another begins.

So it goes on a space jazz odyssey exploring disparate galaxies of rhythm and sound.

Not much for stage banter, the band exited with a quick, “The Comet Is Coming, thank you.” For the uninitiated, it may have been a mystery whether that closing was band name or prophecy. Maybe it was both.

The Comet Is Coming

Friday, Oct. 4, 5:30pm, Tito's Handmade Vodka stage

Check out our daily ACL coverage with previews, reviews, interviews, photos, and more.

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 The Comet Is Coming
SXSW Music Review: The Comet Is Coming
SXSW Music Review: The Comet Is Coming
London jazz-tronica trio sparks psychedelic soul vibrations

Michael Toland, March 15, 2019

More by Thomas Fawcett
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
Dallas Acid blows some bubbles, KUTX remembers the Armadillo, and more music for the moment

Aug. 14, 2020

Colombian Folkloric Post-Punks Nemegata Drop Four-Star Debut
Colombian Folkloric Post-Punks Nemegata Drop Four-Star Debut
Local trio finds the fire of the jaguar

July 3, 2020


The Comet Is Coming, ACL Fest 2019, Dan “Danalogue” Leavers, Max “Betamax” Hallett, “King” Shabaka Hutchings, Sun Ra

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

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

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