(Freelance writer Chad Swiatecki was at the juke joint that was ACL Live on Tuesday night and has this report about Vintage Trouble’s “Austin City Limits” taping, which will air during the iconic music show’s current season.)
There can be a tendency for acts performing for an “Austin City Limits” taping to keep things front and center, to stick to the limits of the stage so the battery of cameras get everything they need for the folks in the editing room.
Vintage Trouble is not one of those acts.
It was obvious from the moment dynamo singer and dancer Ty Taylor strode on stage with his three bandmates at ACL Live at the Moody Theater that the camera and production crew were going to have to cover a lot of ground during the rhythm and blues band’s 75 minutes.
It started energetically if fairly standard, with Taylor leading an audience snap-along to lead off the slow burn of “Not Alright By Me,” his reedy and restrained vocals drawing in the near-capacity audience’s attention and softening them up for what was to come.
As soon as that song closed, drummer Richard Danielson kicked off the riotous “Blues Hand Me Down” and sent Taylor into a whirling dervish spectacle of motion and sexually charged screams that recalled apex James Brown in every way possible.
It was that way for much of the rest of the night, with Taylor delivering his vocals laying half off the drum riser during “Total Stranger” or venturing out into the crowd for the set highlight “Run Like The River,” which saw him deliver the close of the song from the theater’s balcony. No telling how well the TV cameras captured that interactive moment – by which time he and the band had the crowd fully in hand-clapping, fist-pumping command.
It must be said that there had to have been a temptation at some point to embellish such a startling voice and presence like Taylor’s with horns and other R&B band trappings, a la Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings. Instead the band has kept things lean, and they’re better off for it by being able to pivot from lean borderline rock numbers to slow-building soul explorations without having to make room in their arrangements for extra instruments.
That versatility – and the value of a confident and sturdy guitarist like Nalle Colt – was on display just past the set’s halfway point when the band turned “Nobody Told Me” into something resembling a church sermon, with the crowd delivering a standing ovation while a sweaty and smiling Taylor took in the moment.
He didn’t stay still for long, of course, moments later telling the audience to shake like they were in a North Carolina juke joint, and providing them with plenty of visual cues on just what that looked like. Not that they needed the lesson since music like Vintage Trouble’s seems to have a force and sway that makes standing still pretty much impossible.