June 11, 2008

Last night: The Old 97s in Denver

When the Texas foursome the Old 97s took the stage last night in Denver, I thought it fitting that two members were rockin the Converse (the guitarist and the drummer, natch) while the other two strut their leather boot stuff. Footwear usually ranks low on my list of important topics, but the way it characterized their dual-personality of rock and country seemed too fitting an analogy not to mention. It was my first time seeing the Old 97s and they put on a rock & roll show layered with good ole country dust. They simply vibrated with heart and soul.

The setlist rollicked through songs from all of their last 15 years of existence, from the raw bar-band twang of their earlier material to the richly varied textures of their recent release Blame It On Gravity (2008, New West Records). As Rolling Stone wrote a few weeks ago, these are “four Texans raised on the Beatles and Johnny Cash in equal measures, whose shiny melodies, and fatalistic character studies, do their forefathers proud.”

BARRIER REEF – Old 97s, Live in Denver 6/10/08

The hardworking, never-fail attitude of this live band and the refreshing (and drunk) enthusiasm which emanates in waves from their fans reminded me of my experiences seeing Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. As I left the venue, I was glad Rhett Miller and Co all made it to the stage this time through the Rockies.

A final note: Since I am not 15, I don’t usually comment on the dreamyness of the lead singer, but in Rhett Miller’s case, it’s kinda hard not to say something. Down in the front with my photo pass, I tried to get some good shots, but was nearly sucked in to the hormone frenzy of the cougar pit formed directly beneath Rhett’s feet. That is one charming and good-looking frontman, with hair so perfectly tousled and Bon Jovi windblown that you almost didn’t believe it. Julio and I couldn’t help but be dazzled by its radiance; like the sun, it’s best not to look directly at it, Julio says.

More Denver concert pics here.

Also, the mighty Amoeba is streaming an in-store concert with the Old 97s on Wednesday, June 18th at 6pm Pacific time. Watch it here.

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  • A little more than a week ago, I saw the 97′s in Tulsa. Their show was wonderful (as usual). I was particularly pleased to note that Murry’s songs seemed to get a more enthusiastic reaction from the crowd. I have nothing against Rhett, although being a hetero-guy the dreamy thing is kinda lost on me. But Murry is a real hero. And he has a very cool solo album that just came out in the past couple months.

    Tom — June 12, 2008 @ 1:43 am

  • I am also a hetero guy in my 40s, but I will have to admit when I saw the 97′s in Austin a few years back, I also thought Miller just exuded sexuality.

    I will always remember the show mostly, however, for one of the best live rock shows I ever saw. Glad you got to see them.

    Streak — June 12, 2008 @ 7:13 am

  • I discovered old 97s years ago when I was looking for bands similar to Old 97s. These guys are so much fun live. They have lots of albums, including a best of and a live 2 disc cd. I recommend the live cd to get the real effect of the band. They just passed through st. louis and I missed them.

    Kev in St. Louis

    Anonymous — June 12, 2008 @ 7:43 am

  • I’m still trying to figure out how/when I will see them, as I have their show at 9:30 club and Joe Firstman and Tony Lucca playing in town the same night (and majority of my friends w/ be at Joe and Tony). I’m thinking seein’ O97′s in Richmond may be a go the Sunday before DC, but that’s the same weekend the damnwells are in NYC, so I’m not sure how long I’ll stay up in the city.

    Glad you were able to finally catch them and enjoyed yourself.

    Gilly — June 12, 2008 @ 1:14 pm

  • Caught the Old 97s in Minneapolis a week ago at First Ave. Not only were they terrific (2:15 plus set) but make sure you arrive early enough to see Hayes Carll who’s opening. Not only got to see a favorite, but added a new one in the process. Had never heard of him honestly…but been spinning his new release Trouble in Mind ever since. You get a chance to catch him, Heather?

    Dan — June 12, 2008 @ 8:24 pm

  • dreamy lead singers are where it’s at. yo.

    c — June 12, 2008 @ 9:26 pm

  • I also saw them in Tulsa with Hayes Carll(awesome).There’s something to be said for a group of old friends who can make some killer music and enjoy doing it.
    I’ve seen my fair share of 97′s and RCPM shows,and have yet to be let down by either one.
    Sure,we all know Rhett’s dreamy,but there’s something to an ol’ Murry song…

    Jason — June 13, 2008 @ 8:40 am

  • I’m a fan of your blog, and an even bigger fan of the Old 97′s. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen them in the decade plus that I’ve been a fan, but they always put on such a good show. I’m glad you got to see them, and even more glad you enjoyed the show! I would be terribly torn if you didn’t.

    - Rachel in Texas

    Anonymous — June 21, 2008 @ 3:16 pm

  • ps- it’s the full-arm-circle guitar playing on tunes like Barrier Reef plus the insane hip-swinging that do it for me when it comes to Rhett. But in my defense I fell in love with the band when Rhett still wore giant nerdy glasses. The music came first. The good looks are just a bonus that came along later!

    - Rachel again

    Anonymous — June 21, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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