Show Review: Belle and Sebastian @ ACL Live (6/16)

I’m never one to shy away from a Belle and Sebastian set, and thankful we were able to enjoy a night at the always beautiful ACL Live. Plus, it also gave us a time to preview the much-hyped Men I Trust. Check below for more words and photos.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t overly familiar with Men I Trust when they were announced as support for the Austin leg of the Belle and Sebastian tour. But, I spent the days before listening to the tracks in order to preview the band’s sound; it was precisely what I got from the live set, which perhaps left me underwhelmed. The songs are great, and my wife remarked “this would be great if we were just relaxing at home,” however, we weren’t…thus my complaint. Music was good, performance was lackluster at best. Just a bit of movement can do wonders.

And, then came Belle and Sebastian, perennial favorites at my house. They spent the majority of the night’s set bouncing back and forth between old hit here, new tune there. Admittedly, they could have delighted me more with a few older tunes, but I was rather impressed at the power of the new songs live. There was that, and then there was the performance…in stark contrast to the opener.

For starters, Stuart is full of boundless energy, whether shimmying or pogoing in place, he never once stopped moving about; he does steer clear of Stage Left, oddly. But, the rest of the group moves in and out of 6 to 9 man band formations, trading instruments here and there. Ultimately, what left me most impressed was the inclusiveness of the band. Whether it was Stuart recounting his yoga exploits or inviting crowd members to come up for “Boy with the Arab Strap,” and “Judy and the Dream of Horses” and “Lazy Jane.” It’s something that’s always been part of the band’s repertoire, but something that keeps the band enchanting. They have die-hard fans for a reason…and this was just THAT reason.

In the end, I’m thinking everyone left with a grin on their face, new fans and old. I can say, for my part, I was really impressed with the new tunes live, so I’m likely to be spending the next few days with those 3 EPs.

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