There's an old-fashioned entertainment quality in watching Gnarls Barkley play. Maybe it's the full band, the playful backup singers, or the fact that Cee-Lo puts a face on the duo that shows how much they truly love music. "Crazy" is a club hit across the world, but seeing them play live brought an energy to their music that set everyone at the show dancing.
"We're not just musicians," Cee-Lo said at one point. "We're music lovers, too." The band proved it by playing three different cover songs. One, of course, was the Violent Femmes' "Gone Daddy Gone," which was a highlight of the show. ("This song goes to 11," Cee-Lo said in a Spinal Tap reference.) They also played "There's an End" by the Greenhornes, and "Who Scared You," a semi-obscure Doors song from the album Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine.
The show attracted a couple of celebrities, too. Jake Gyllenhaal and Lance Armstrong were seen watching the show from the stairs at Stubb's. (What would those two guys talk about, anyway? "Gee, I sure do love riding my bike." "That's nice. I was in Donnie Darko." "I was hooking up with Sheryl Crow for a while." "She has small boobs." "I know.")
A lot of great bands are playing in Austin this weekend, but there may be very few with the wit, energy, and craftsmanship of Gnarls Barkley. They play at the Austin City Limits Music Festival this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are sold out, but they're reasonably priced on Craigslist.