Show Review: Neko Case ACL Taping (10/9)

The folks that run Austin City Limits, the real Austin City Limits, ya know, the TV show approaching forty years of bringing bands into your living room, always take advantage of artists just sitting around before, between or after a festival weekend. Neko Case is one such artist and I was delighted to see and more importantly hear her taping because of conflicts on the Sunday nights at Zilker.

This isn’t her first taping, so that means mostly material from the last two albums. I’m really liking Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You and we gave Middle Cyclone four stars back in the day.

Read on for thoughts on her set and a few pics of the event…

“Where Did I Leave That Fire” opened things up. Spellbound. In fact, I believe the song set a mood that kept the crowd well-behaved; not a phone to be seen and respectful silence at quiet moments I haven’t enjoyed since the Majical Cloudz set at The Mohawk. At one point she even had to lighten things up a bit to elicit a whoo from an audience member. “This Tornado Loves You” followed and it was so amazing that I started to daze off into my happy place. It was a show induced time-fog that only happens when you are really lost in a moment. I was holding my lady’s hand. It was nice.

“Hold On, Hold On” was the first real big song. It is an amazingly full sound comes out of that band. I guess there is resistance to calling the act the Neko Case Band because there is a little in and out and lots of contributors. However, the strength of the performance, the ability to put what lives in Neko’s head out on there on stage, comes from the musicians that surround her. Kelly Hogan’s backing vocal, harmonizing and strengthening Neko’s delivery, was so good that I just couldn’t believe it was happening. It was also with Kelly that most of the banter occurred. Stories of stuffed animals and what really random things smell like had us all entertained as instruments were tuned and delivered. There was one do over, can’t recall what track. “Calling Card” and “Man” were other big highlights for me.

I stepped out to grab a cold one and close the tab and when I sat back down, I was met with a clearly-emotional wife. Neko performed Harry Nilsson’s “Don’t Forget Me”. It was amazing. I got to hear it in the lobby, but shouldn’t have left. Mad at myself, it serves as a reminder to understand the risk of stepping out of a taping for even one song.

You all should be looking forward to this episode’s debut, dates TBD. So very good.

Neko performance portraits courtesy Scott Newton.


  • I’m not a religious woman but listening to Neko with Kelly’s impeccable harmonizing was CHURCH last night.

    It was my first ACL taping and there isn’t anyone I would have rather seen.

  • So many times, the missing harmonies of a live performance just leave you wanting more, but this… You picked a good one, indeed.

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