For a brief moment on Friday night at ACL Live, near the end of the set during “You’re What’s Happenin’, Baby,” it was all rhythm behind Billy Gibbons and his signature guitar playing. Keyboardists G.G. Martine and Mike Flanigin both switched to maracas, joining percussionist Alx “Guitarzza” Garza and drummers Sozo and Melanie DiLorenzo to create a wall of beats that was as glorious as it was unusual.
The song was the night’s highlight, in fact, thanks in part to Garza’s hip-hop vocal cameo midway through and the visual spectacle of the two female drummers in full synchronization near the end. “Yes, I’m feelin’ it,” Gibbons affirmed in his trademark good-natured growl at the end, concurring with the audience’s own joyful assessment.
It was that kind of night, with Gibbons feeding off the crowd’s good nature and reveling in the visit to Austin, where he has many good friends — including Flanigin, the B3 organ ace he befriended a few years ago and eventually recruited for his new album “Perfectamundo.” Working outside of ZZ Top, Gibbons struck a familiar yet different tone; Friday’s set included most of the songs from that record, from the Cuban-inspired originals “Sal y Pimiento” and “Quiero Mas Dinero” to classic bluesy covers of Roy Head’s “Treat Her Right” and the standard “Baby Please Don’t Go.”