ACL Fest 2015: Nero not so much

Of all the electronic acts at this year’s ACL, you’d have to think Nero were the hardest for non-fans to get excited about.

There’s just something robotic about them. When the UK trio are on stage, you rarely catch a look at the guys triggering the music, from their light box on stage. But it’s not just stagecraft that’s robotic. Even a guy in a mouse mask formed a stronger connection with the crowd. It’s the music.

Marisa Morales dances with a hula hoop during a performance by Nero at Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. JAMES GREGG/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Marisa Morales dances with a hula hoop during a performance by Nero at Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. JAMES GREGG/AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN

When they play tracks with solid hooks, things work fine, it’s interesting candy. Totally listenable. But others are just a slog. Nero worked with Skrillex to win a Grammy for “Promises,” but the lyrics (repeated versions of “I’m so wasted on myself”) don’t add up to much.

Still, give Nero credit for having a real singer in the band. Alana Watson appears on stage and actually sing in the flesh, looking and sounding like a band that fell out of a “Hunger Games” set.

The final moment of disconnection seems too rich a metaphor. The set ends on a huge drum roll out, but the band has already thanked the crowd, clicked a button and left the stage.

Obviously they had a huge crowd. EDM is a huge movement. Still, they seem to take themselves so seriously, that it just seems silly. Despite sounding glitzy and polished, Nero felt mostly soulless, like a soundtrack to a big budget, but disappointing dystopian Hollywood blockbuster.

 

 

Author: Luke Quinton

Freelancer for the Austin American-Statesman and public radio.

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