ZZ Top Concert Review, Austin, TX 10/9/2013
ZZ Top is one of those bands that I can’t say I love or dislike. They’ve always just been there. If you were around in the 80s, you couldn’t get away from them because of MTV and radio play of megahits Gimme All Your Lovin’, Sharp Dressed Man and Legs. Eliminator was a huge album for them. HUGE. Their 70s stuff was prominent as well but that MTV era blew them up and they changed with the times by writing straight forward bluesy rock and roll pop hits, quite different from he previous decade. I’m not telling you anything new here.
I’d never seen them and when the show was announced for Austin’s ACL Live/Moody Theater, I decided to go and get them struck off the list of legendary bands that I hadn’t seen yet. ZZ Top and Austin have a long history, especially with them being from Houston. A guy sitting next to me last night was talking about seeing them in for the first time in 1971(?) at the now-defunct Armadillo.
As I generally do, I bought 2 tickets on the presale and got my favorite spot in the venue, which is front row, center balcony. The show sold out quickly. My friend Mariana quickly accepted the offer to join me when I asked a few weeks before the show. When we arrived at the show I liked the shirts that ZZ had and decided to buy one for myself and Mariana. We ended up with the same styled shirt and I swear that it was brown and not black. The vendor said it was black and compared to the black shirts on either side of it, it wasn’t…seriously. I ended up trading it in for a truly black one as seen below.
I didn’t realize there was an opening act until we sat down. When I saw a washtub and washboard, I wasn’t too excited. It was Joppa, MO’s Ben Miller Band. Americana/bluegrassish/hipsterish music. In general they weren’t that bad. I’d never heard a washboard played with a wah pedal and flange before, so that was interesting. Everyone in the band was multi-instrumental and that was impressive. That type of music, for me, is better heard and not seen.
ZZ Top came on a little after 9PM opening with Got Me Under Pressure. They smoothly ran through most of their hits and really threw out no surprises. Like a lot of older bands are doing these days, the setlist is set and very coordinated and ZZ’s performance was no different. They were obviously playing along to synched up tracks and that’s fine. It made their show a well-oiled machine.
Billy Gibbons made the statement that these 3 guys have been playing together for 4 decades…and the “same 3 chords.” Pretty funny. He’s been a huge influence on a lot of guitarists and the guy still has it. Get beyond the beards, hats, choreographed stage motions etc, and you’ve got one bad ass guitarist. Minimalist style that is about as flawless as you could want. Dusty’s solid bass lines provided the perfect bottom for the show. Frank played his steady styled beats while it was pretty obvious that his drums were triggered. He didn’t need to hit hard at all. The sound went out on the drums for a few seconds in one song and while I could see him hitting drums, you couldn’t hear any of it. He seemed to be the one most worn from the years of touring, but he played fine.
It was a fun show and while I wanted to heard Beer Drinkers and Heard It On The X, I’ve got no real complaints at all.