Old 97’s / Those Darlins @ House of Blues
Welp, I had myself a nice little Saturday. I woke up at 4.30 A.M. in a Los Angeles hotel still buzzed from seeing my favorite musician (Trey Anastasio) at the Music Box, somehow made my flight (winning!), and arrived in Houston just in time to clean up before heading to see my favorite country musician (Hayes Carll) play an instore at Cactus. A couple of hours and a few rounds later, I headed to the House of Blues to see my favorite local band (Buxton) open for my favorite alt-country band (Old 97’s) with most of my favorite people at a venue with my favorite sound in Houston. Twas a weekend of favorites, and every single one was even better than I’d hoped… a goddamn Bacon-y miracle if I ever saw one. Eggs already covered the Buxton portion of the evening, so read on for a recap of the rest of the night at HoB – including some beautiful shots he took of Those Darlins and the Old 97s.
Words by Zach “Bacon” Vernon
Photos by Jim “Eggs” Bricker
Those Darlins are 3 purdy ladies who play country-tinged rock ‘n roll and dress like they know how to f*ck, so naturally the majority of the time watching them was spent in conversation that is unfit to print on this particular portion of the internet. Oh and there’s some dude on drums, too, but he seemed to know the deal. Honestly, I was too busy reveling in the post-show glow of Buxton’s Big Day Out to pay adequate aural attention to new music wrapped up in short skirts. Those Darlins sounded good and looked great, and I look forward to checking them out in a situation where they’re not sandwiched in between so many bands that I already love. Another sort of sandwich situation works for me too. (P.S. I’m not a CREEP, they market and exploit their sexuality… I’m a CONSUMER. ‘merica y’all.)
The Old 97’s were the final act in the play about my life’s favorite music, and the dénouement did not disappoint. Sooo… I’m more than a little in love with these guys. They were the first club show I ever saw (at Trees in Dallas circa 17-yr old me) and I’m fairly certain that at this point I’ve seen them more than I’ve seen any other band. You know about 20% of what you’re gonna get when you see these guys: Barrier Reef, 4 Leaf Clover, Timebomb, West Texas Teardrops, and some sexyRhett solo action. The rest is up for grabs, as they have a huge catalog dating back to 1994’s Hitchike to Rhome. For me, the reason I love the Old 97’s can be distilled down into a couple of lines from songs played at each time I see them. On Saturday it came down to:
I would give anything not to feel so jagged.
I believe in love, but it don’t believe in me.
Turn off your heart and let the whiskey take the reins.
There is no justice, there’s only dark stars above.
I’ll stomp a mudhole in your heart.
The 97’s have perfected the formula for zachappiness. Poppy, proficient alt-country chockfull of memorable geetar licks and earworm-y lyrics. Rhett Miller is a brilliant songwriter with the ability to insert at least one, and usually more, PERFECT lines into all of his songs. Clever, catchy, and relatable is the name of the game, and it’s one that I’ll cede to Stuart Ransom Miller II over a lot of other songwriters operating today. The setlist is below, so skip ahead to it if disinterested in a few random thoughts about the overall performance. First, at this point the songs off Grand Theater: Volume One blend in perfectly with the classics and measure up goddamn well to all of them. Unlike their show at the Continental it doesn’t seem like they’re still testing them out and figuring out placement within the set. I CANNOT WAIT to hear the songs of Volume Two, which are rumored to be even better. Second, and also unlike their show at the Continental, Ken Bethea was fairly restrained on lead guitar which in my opinion, was a damn good thing. He stepped all over the rest of the band several times at that show in October, and his restraint on Saturday allowed for a much more cohesive and enjoyable show. Third, screaming “I believe in love, but it don’t believe in me” surrounded by single women in their mid-30’s, in retrospect, has spurred some harsh self-examination. I have a cat, I live alone, and if I start eating sherbet while watching NCIS go ahead and kill me. Setlist and shots below, enjoy!
Old 97’s House Of Blues Setlist:
The Grand Theater
Here’s to the Halycon
The Dance Class
You Smoke too Much
The New Kid
Let the Whiskey Take the Reins
West TX Teardrops
Please Hold On While the Train is Moving
Wish the Worst
You Were Born to Be in Battle
Dance with Me
Every Night is Friday Night (Without You)
Won’t Be Home
Four Leaf Clover
Come Around (Rhett solo)
Fireflies (Rhett solo)
Valentine (Ranchero Brothers)
State of Texas
Rocks Off (Rolling Stones cover)