The DC/AC (Dead Confederate and Alberta Cross) co-headline tour, as it was billed, rolled into the Fox Theatre for a relatively late-starting Sunday night show. Denver’s Houses opened at 9 p.m. and played to all of 20 people.
The size of the audience more than doubled for Alberta Cross’s set, which began strong with “The Devil’s All You Ever Had.” For puzzling reasons, perhaps owing more to hairstyle similarities, Alberta Cross has been compared to Kings of Leon. I feel that AC rocks much harder live and lack KOL’s moronic macho bluster.
The guitar interplay between front man Petter Ericson Stakee on rhythm guitar and lead guitarist Sam Kearney repeatedly produced magical moments. Kearney used pedal effects quite well, his guitar shimmering one moment and sounding like a cello or a violin the next.
Drummer Austin Beede anchored the quintet flawlessly propelling AC’s overall sound and filling the theatre without resorting to “loudness for loudness sake.” Stakee’s vocals still retain an appealing fragile quality, but a solid year of non-stop touring now allows him to project a more diverse range than even last fall’s Larimer Lounge show revealed. His vocals have been compared to Neil Young and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, but he emotes more of the late Richard Manuel of The Band.
AC sounded like The Band at times (“Ghost of City Life”) and quite European (think UK’s Doves) on a few keyboard-dominant songs toward the latter portion of their set, particularly the haunting closer, “Rise From The Shadows.”
Athens-based Dead Confederate has played more shows in Colorado over the past few years than have many local acts. By the time DC started their set at 11:15 p.m., a significant portion of the audience had left.
I’d seen DC twice before and thought that their sonic, sludgy guitar attack worked well live. “Sugar”, the band’s new album, is far better produced than their 2008 debut and features Dinosaur Jr‘s J Mascis on one track. Last night’s set, while certainly energetic, seemed needlessly loud and the newer songs never made the case for sticking it out past midnight on a Sunday night.
Mike Long is a Longmont-based writer and comedian and a regular contributor to Reverb.