ACL Live Shot: Wheeler Brothers

Zilker Park, Oct. 13

ACL Live Shot: Wheeler Brothers
Photo by John Anderson

There appears to be a growing dichotomy between what the Wheeler Brothers' adoring and rapidly growing audience sees in the band and what those with a more critical eye think. One audience member exclaimed, "Amazing show," contradicting words in my notebook like "unfocused" and "sleepy." To its credit, the Austin born and bred quintet could have been a little nervous. In fact, they seemed a little stunned, perhaps overwhelmed, just to be playing the festival, thanking everyone involved profusely and sincerely. The set list also included a majority of new songs, some so new they only have "working titles," a potential cause for any tentativeness. Still, their brand of Americana echoes 21st century headliners like My Morning Jacket and the Band of Heathens with an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink mentality (banjo, xylophone, lap steel) minus the compositional inspiration. There was even sparing use of the three-man Smokestack Horn Section adding a funky kick to tunes like "Mississippi" and closer "I've Been Around." In the past, youthful enthusiasm might have won the day for the Wheelers, but this time out they only demonstrated potential to be the great band their fans and Austin Music Award voters want them to be.

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