Circles Around ATX

Photo by:  Melissa Bordeau

Photo by: Melissa Bordeau

All of Austin’s Grateful Dead fans flocked to Antone’s last night to enjoy similar sounds by Circles Around The Sun.

Photo by:  Skye Mark

Photo by: Skye Mark

By now, most people know the origin story of CATS…but in case you don’t here it is.

Photo by:  Melissa Bordeau

Photo by: Melissa Bordeau

Three years ago, guitarist Neal Casal formed the band with keyboardist Adam MacDougall (his bandmate in the Chris Robinson Brotherhood), bassist Dan Horne and drummer Mark Levy to record some Grateful Dead-influenced instrumentals to be played during the set breaks at the Dead’s “Fare Thee Well” concerts.

Photo by:  Skye Mark

Photo by: Skye Mark

“That was supposed to be the end of it,” Casal says. Instead, there was an album, Interludes for the Dead,followed by several acclaimed live performances. The response was so positive, and the band was having so much fun making music together, that they agreed to keep it going, MacDougall says. “The chemistry the four of us had was instant and undeniable. It felt like we’d barely scratched the surface of what we could do, which is why we wanted to get back in the studio.”

You can tell how much fun CATS have playing music together when you see them live. Their entire purpose is to inspire the crowd to dance the entire show, hence the disco balls. They definitely succeeded. Neal Casal, said at the beginning of the night something along the lines “I see you get the point. We are here to make you dance.”

Photo by:  Melissa Bordeau

Photo by: Melissa Bordeau

The musicianship was on point. The show had it all, monstrous peaks, extended jams, composed endings. Bassist Dan Horne was playing a lot like Phil Lesh, playing a lot of the notes melodically. The drummer Mark Levy was smiling from ear to ear the entire show. Keyboardist Adam MacDougall was on fire and of course Neal was incredible.