ACL Fest: Drive-By Truckers, Man Man, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, and MGMT
Drive-By Truckers: Early voting suggests this is the set to beat. The afternoon's first layer of grime was damn near inviting on opener "That Man I Shot," from their most recent, Brighter Than Creation's Dark. But we weren't sure about Patterson Hood's preacher-man monologue on "18 Wheels of Love." Someone said he could have used an editor. Another was much harsher, calling for a censor to flat-out silence his hillbilly talk.
Man Man: David Byrne's group wore white for fashion and interpretive-dance reasons. These face-painted warriors wore white because that's what was issued at the loony bin they're on the loose from. Any notion that they're not musicians -- just kids in a romper room, banging on gongs -- can be dispelled with a viewing of their Pitchfork.tv "Daytripping" session, wherein they clang bottles and set off firecrackers to conjure their radical Rabbit Habbits album.
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears: Find a groove and stick with it. That's the ticket this local big band cashed in to sign with Lost Highway, home to Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Lucinda Williams. A proper debut album is forthcoming. Expect James Brown comparisons up the ying-yang. But Black Joe isn't as flamboyant and you won't find him doing any splits; plus, his band is more on the rock side of soul, like the Blues Brothers, than it is on the funk side of soul, like the J.B.'s.
MGMT: Too many acolytes of this Lord of the Flies tribe made a sightline out of reach. Better to close one's eyes and visualize kaleidoscopes, rainbows and floating crystals during "Electric Feel" and "Time to Pretend," the only two good songs on their album Oracular Spectacular. That, or watch some out-of-his-mind dude run away from ticked-off security despite getting tripped by a not-so-innocent bystander in the sandpit adjacent to the stage. -- Michael Hoinski