10/27 Gnarls Barkley ACL Taping

Even with Austin City Limits Festival in the forefront of the weekend, many of the major acts found their way to the University of Texas campus to tape an episode of the Austin City Limits television show. One of the groups making their ACL debut in front of the famed Austin backdrop was Gnarls Barkley on Saturday night. Show review and setlist after the jump.

The intimate crowd of nearly 300 greatly welcomed the cold beverages and air conditioning of the 6th floor Communications Building to the dry and dusty Zilker Park. However, with the feature act coming on just after 8:00 PM, Gnarls Barkley managed to still transform the atmosphere of the small ACL set into that of the AT&T stage from the festival of the same name.

The hip-hop duo of DJ Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo Green walked on stage, the latter donning a black cardinal’s robe, accompanied by a full band clad in black tuxedoes and maroon bow ties. Kicking off the show was the catchy sing/clap-a-long Charity Case. Cee-Lo’s melodic voice over Danger Mouse’s beats, laced with addicting sound effects (in this case a children’s xylophone), make this first track from the new album a fantastic representation of the mellower sound that is found on The Odd Couple. Gnarls followed this with their cover of the Violent Femmes’ Gone Daddy Gone and their newest single, Run (I’m a Natural Disaster), which feels like gospel in a spaceship. “But essentially I’m an animal, so just what do I do with all the aggression?” rang true with Just A Thought, and left the vibrant audience wondering if any of the instruments would live past the hard hitting, stop-and-go song.

The second half of the set saw a shift in tempo with slower songs Going On, Neighbors, Crazy (a stripped down, R&B version with plenty of audience participation), and Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?, all stylized by the strength of heavy organs and Cee-Lo’s straightforward vocal delivery. The show came to a close with the single from St. Elsewhere, Smiley Faces, leaving the crowd swaying in their seats.

Gnarls Barkley has shown that their second album, while somewhat lyrically gloomier and musically more soulful, is in many ways a religious experience, and that it’s in every way as upbeat and fun as anything they’ve done.

The Gnarls Barkley (followed by Thievery Corporation) Austin City Limits taping will air on November 22, 2008, on PBS.

Charity Case
Gone Daddy Gone
Run (I’m a Natural Disaster)
Just A Thought
Going On
Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?
Smiley Faces

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