ACL Music Fest Live Shots

Saturday

ACL Music Fest Live Shots
Photo By Gary Miller

Roky Erickson & the Explosives

Zilker Park, Sept. 24

After months of buildup, it's exhilarating to report that Roky Erickson & the Explosives unequivocally exceeded all expectations at their ACL performance Saturday night. This was Erickson's first full concert in almost two decades and most likely the largest crowd the Texas psychedelic music legend had ever played for. Knowing a good vote-trolling opportunity when he sees one, cigar-chomping gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman introduced Erickson, calling him "an explorer of the mind and a pioneer of the heart." With that, Erickson and the Explosives tore into "It's a Cold Night for Alligators" with a toothy crunch that belied the long hiatus. The set was heavily weighted toward Erickson's solo work, particularly his hard-rocking horror/occult-themed songs like "Don't Shake Me Lucifer" and "Creature With the Atom Brain." Accompanied by the strobe-lit cloud of dust and neo-psychedelic projections on the cliff behind the stage, one can only imagine what festivalgoers not familiar with Erickson made of this noise. Erickson's foundational reverence for 12-bar blues came through when he traded guitar solos with Cam King on "The Beast." Aside from some crusty vocal harmonies on the 13th Floor Elevators' regional hit "Splash 1," King and the Explosives put their history as Erickson's early-Eighties backing band to good use, nailing the crisp presentation a festival setting demands. While Erickson didn't move around much or banter beyond "thank you" between songs, he carried himself with the magnetic gait of a bandleader. The first four chords of the Elevators' "You're Gonna Miss Me" elicited a roar from the crowd, after which the quartet proceeded to drive the set-closing standard home with King approximating Tommy Hall's jug on guitar. Called back for an encore, Erickson sealed the deal with "The Damn Thing" and a marathon version of "I Walked With a Zombie." After the main set, Erickson had responded to the sea of approval by politely saying, "My pleasure," as well-raised Texans are wont to do. In reality, the pleasure was all ours.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Roky Erickson & the Explosives, Roky Erickson, The 13th Floor Elevators

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