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.”
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.