Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Old 97s live at the Gothic Theatre in Denver (Englewood), CO

It always feels good to see a good solid Old 97s show. Caught them last night in Denver, and as always, they delivered. For a band that never really gets that much radio play, they have really built a following off of their great albums and solid live shows over the years.

Kind of funny how, even though they are done with major labels, likely for good, they have this solid fan base of people in the range of ages from about 30-45, who incidentally are a demographic that has money. Hence, I would speculate that touring and merch sale income may be as good for them as it has ever been.

Hayes Carll, who I've seen a number of times, but many years back when he was still playing solo, did a great opening set. His music is really growing on me. The songwriting is top notch, and I think he's found a good sound for his voice. (although take a little bit of the roadhouse sound out and it would be absolutely perfect, in my opinion.) Before him, I Love Math, featuring Philip from Old 97s and members of the Deathray Davies, played a short opening set...which I missed. and am really bummed about. Saw them about 4 years ago and loved the show, so I'm really sorry I didn't get to see it.

The 97s were obviously pushing their new record, so lots of material off of that. Sorry not to hear the best song off of that album "This Beautiful Thing," one of Murry's songs, but the new album has got some great material. As with any Old 97s show, they push the new stuff, always mixing in the older stuff. Through that process they figure out what's great live and what's less great, and next time you see them, they'll have the new stuff more fine-tuned and cut out those that don't get the crowd's attention.

Now this is not in order, but since I'm an official Old 97s junkie, here's the set list they played off of each album:

Hitchhike to Rhome:
Stoned (it's just not the same in Denver as a Dallas show, where everyone sings along)

Wreck Your Life:
Big Brown Eyes

Too Far to Care:
Barrier Reef
Big Brown Eyes

Fight Songs:
Lonely Holiday
Crash on the Barrelhead (this made my night)

Satellite Rides:
Rollerskate Skinny

Drag It Up:
Won't Be Home
The New Kid

Also, to start the encore, Rhett played "Come Around," from his first solo album The Instigator, and "Wave of Mutilation" by the Pixies and "I Wanna Be Sedated" by the Ramones.

Like I said, lots of stuff from the new album, which I won't list off, but overall a fantastic show. Hope they stay on the road a while with this one and maybe come back through town.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

In Case You Were Wondering

Yes, that is DeVotchKa you hear playing in the background of this split-screen commercial with Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. It is from the song "A New World" on their new album A Mad and Faithful Telling.

Apparently the directors for this video are Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, the same folks who brought you Little Miss Sunshine. See for yourself here.

To all you kids out there, this is a good lesson regarding the fact that once you are "in" the biz, you are definitely "in" the biz, and the way things go these days, you are going to make more money licensing songs here and there than you will on album sales (see also Avett Brothers' music on Friday Night Lights TV series).

Nashville Star

So I guess my street cred is completely blown by talking about this, but yes, I did watch the NBC premiere of Nashville Star last night. Overall, it is a little bit addictive, but also frustrating when you remember that mainstream country music quit being country music a long time ago. Therefore I'm not even sure this show can be watched in the context of being about country music.

Of the judges, you have:

Jewel - the once-indie singer songwriter from Alaska, who is probably the best of the 3 judges, but... when was she ever country? Maybe she was selected because she's still in a relationship with Ty Murray?

John Rich - of Big and Rich infamy, who was never country and seems to be the newest reality show diva.

Jeffrey Steele - A Nashville factory songwriter that never had a good song as far as I can find, but is clearly a part of the Music Row machine and makes lots of money and gets "trendy" tattoos.

Highlights in my opinion were Gabe Garcia singing "All My Exes Live in Texas," which the judges actually liked even though they forgot about George Strait and real country music a long time ago. I'm surprised they didn't ask who sang the song originally.

And I have to say, "Elvira" by the trio Third Town, was pretty solid. While these guys are kind of suspect, I appreciated the Kenny Rogers/Oak Ridge Boys nod here, and thought it was a great choice, even though the judges have never heard classic country music and were kind of dumbfounded.

The "Stand by Your Man" performance was, I think, the only other classic country song, and it was hit and miss. The performers were two young women (Laura and Sophie), and I didn't think they nailed it the first go round, but the second was pretty spot on.

Billy Ray Cyrus needs some serious help from the producers because he comes out after every song and says something completely off about each singer. He'll say "Wow! So you two have been best friends all of your lives?" To which they answer, "We've known each other 7 years."

Pretty hilarious really. He's like someone's crazy uncle. Also reminiscent of Fred Willard, who plays the dog show commentator on Best in Show.

Since no one reads this blog, I'm also inclined to comment about the military representation in the show. They brought one enlisted person into the top 12, despite the fact that he tanked in his audition. He did a decent job in his first song on the show, but they very truly walk on eggshells around him because they know they can't criticize the military on a show with country music fans. They'll probably have to let him win for fear of seeming unpatriotic. I have no problem with the guy, but the way they treat him is a little ridiculous.

Nonetheless, if I continue to watch this show, I'm going to have to tell myself that it is not about country music. Overall, this show is about as ironic as Alan Jackson singing "Murder on Music Row" with blood on his hands (see "www.memory").