Canadian improvisational jazz quartet BADBADNOTGOOD (BBNG) played perhaps the punkest jazz show this side of Miles Davis telling everyone to shove it. The group from Toronto who close-out the Tito’s Vodka Stage tonight at Austin City Limits Music Festival, sold-out Mohawk Austin for last night’s Late Night Show, drawing a diverse crowd that ranged from college kids to 40-something sound nerds. Most of those kids were packed in front of their new jazz heroes barely able to contain their enthusiasm, swirling into a mosh pit of bodies and crowd surfers during the second half of the performance.
The set began with saxophonist Leland Whitty softly blowing on his horn while touring keyboardist James Hill tickled the ivories and Chester Hansen laid down a steady bass line following his drummer, Alex Sowinski’s lead. The remarkable aspect of BADBADNOTGOOD isn’t their musical chops, it’s the mature approach these former university-mates take to music. What twenty year-old has the type of reverence for jazz, electronica and hip-hop to turn a composition from a fun tune into a piece of concert art that leaves even the most jaded music fan with their mouth agape, awed at the precociousness of BBNG’s songs? After watching two days of live music performances at Austin City Limits Music Festival we can confirm it’s few and far between.
The hour and fifteen minute show included material from the band’s most recent record, IV. In fact, BBNG capped the show with a stunning take on the title track, setting off the young fans in front when the booming bass and electronic drums kicked in like a sonic explosion of euphoric release. This followed “CS60” perhaps the most ambitious track on 2014’s III. Separately each song is sublimely good. Strung together last night, felt like a one-two jazz fusion knockout punch driving the Mohawk audience into the type of frenzy normally reserved for the typical dirty punk shows booked at the venue.
If you’re attending ACL Festival tonight, make sure you head to the Tito’s Vodka Stage (tent) for BBNG at 6:15 p.m. this evening. We guarantee you’ll be glad you took in the performance before heading off to the Honda Stage for Gorillaz. You’re going to Gorillaz right?!