ACL performance promises magic


Patrick Watson will be making their ACL debut at this year’s festival. (Brigitte Henry | Pitch Perfects)

Hannah Smothers

Patrick Watson’s debut Austin City Limits Music Festival performance may turn out to be more of a magic show than a musical performance.

Patrick Watson is not the lonely, goateed singer-songwriter you might initially picture upon hearing the name. The name refers to a band composed of four men, one of whom is named Patrick Watson.

“We didn’t have this ambition of being a band, we were just kind of having these crazy evenings and were putting these elaborate shows on,” Watson said. “We just got kind of slumped into the name Patrick Watson. I would’ve preferred to have a band name, but life just happens the way it does.”

The elaborate shows are a signature attribute of this band of Canadian men. According to audience accounts, previous shows have seen the band perform tricks such as transforming a bicycle into an instrument while playing the song “Beijing” from their junior album, Wooden Arms.

For their most recent album, Adventures In Your Own Backyard, the band left the bike on the rack and stuck to conventional instruments during its purposely subdued recording sessions inside Watson’s home. The result of these toned-down sessions was an album that leans more toward humble subtlety with hints of magical whimsy.

Inspiration for the album was drawn from familiar places inside Watson’s own metaphorical backyard.

“Recording this album inspired me to look at my own neighborhood and take a look at people I live around,” Watson said. “Instead of being inspired by things far away, we try to be inspired by things around us.”

Watson’s self-proclaimed love for old science fiction also plays a role in their newly adopted simplistic approach to recording and making music.

“What I love about science fiction is the subtlety of the craziness. There’s very much a lack of subtlety in the era that we live in,” Watson said.

In his free time, Watson is most likely working on a film score. During the band’s brief respite between tours, Watson has been composing the score to a short film he described, as “a Jim Henson porno in space narrated by David Attenborough.”

Watson’s life is a busy one, filled with song writing, film scoring and the occasional hint of magic.

“When I go to write music, that’s my favorite part,” Watson said. “It’s a beautiful escape, it feels fantastic. I don’t think I could ever stop writing music.”

In a sense, a beautiful escape is what Patrick Watson as a band aims to provide through its live performances.

“Recordings always makes us a lot more melancholic than the music really is. It’s a fun show. People usually like our live show better than our CDs,” Watson said.

During the band’s first-ever ACL performance, audience members can expect to see Patrick Watson’s usual signature antics, but will also enjoy a more subdued show compared to previous tours.

What definitely won’t be missing, however, is the subtle magic Patrick Watson has managed to capture so well in Adventures In Your Own Backyard.

“When I’m on stage performing the album and I just feel it in my gut. There’s not another word to describe that feeling other than magic. I love that it has that kind of magic to it.”

Printed on Thursday, October 11, 2012 as: Watson's whimsical show will charm