Band of Skulls first caught my attention here in Austin at South By Southwest in 2010. They are one of the few bands that was so memorable that year that, despite my South By lag, I remember the first time I saw them even today. Not quite indie, not quite hard rock, the Southampton (England) blues-rock trio have gained much deserved notoriety and status since then. When the opportunity to see Band Of Skulls at an official ACL Late Night concert at La Zona Rosa presented itself, I took advantage of the opportunity.
Another reason I was eager to attend the Band of Skulls concert was for the chance to see opener and Austin-based blues-rock duo Black Pistol Fire. Often compared to the quintessential two-man band, The Black Keys, BPF’s brand of blues-driven Southern rock was a perfect way to open the show for the Band Of Skulls crowd.
Black Pistol Fire captured the crowds’ attention from the start and held it to the very end of their set. The biggest crowd pleasers receiving the most applause were tracks “You’re Not The Only One” and “Jezebel Stomp.” The last time I heard this sort of quality blues-rock fusion coming out of Austin was when I first heard Gary Clark, Jr., at Antone’s (and look where he is now). If BPF keep playing more shows and recording more music, they won’t be openers for long. Being familiar with the band, my only disappointment would be not hearing their entire Little Richard cover EP live.
While Black Pistol Fire is a tough act to follow for any band, headliners Band of Skulls did so just fine. Performing a good mix of songs from their latest album, Sweet Sour, and their 2009 release, Baby Darling Dollface Honey, Band of Skulls were able to play practically all crowd favorites. It is difficult to say which tracks stood out more than the other live, as Band of Skulls are straight forward musicians’ musicians, technically sound and with both vocalists almost always in key. Personal favorites performed included “Cold Fame,” “You’re Not Pretty But You Got It Goin’ On” and “Dull Gold Heart.”
As expected, attendees Thursday night wanted an encore. The band obliged of course opening the encore with popular Sweet Sour track “The Devil Takes Care Of His Own” and followed it with “Light Of The Morning.” It was at the concert’s close that Band Of Skulls finally gave us “Death By Diamonds And Pearls.” I was taken by surprise that they ended with that, considering some of their other songs were more popular. Still, no one seemed to care either way as Band of Skulls exited to well deserved and enthusiastic applause.
It’s hard to believe after seeing Band of Skulls live again that they actually played with popular indie band Metric at La Zona Rosa in 2009. Metric and Band of Skulls don’t belong in the same sentence musically, much less the same show. They are so good live in fact, that I have even forgiven them for being a part of The Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack.