Friday, July 13, 2007

bottle rockets, avett bros, etc

We've had a good week or so for music. Saturday we hit the Taste of Downtown - for awhile during the day, then we went back at night. The Romantics were so much worse than we'd even anticipated, but that's not really what we were there for - I really wanted to see the Bottle Rockets. Even though we love alt-country and roots music, and even though we both love Tupelo and Wilco, for some reason we've just never really given the BR that chance. Well, at first we thought their songs were a little undifferentiated, the way things sometimes are when you're not familiar with any of a band's work. But as the night went on (did I mention we were drinking?) some songs did stand out from others for me and I liked them more and more, so I'll definitely check them out again/buy a cd/whatever.

Then the Jason Isbell solo album came out. I haven't even had a chance to listen to that yet, but I'm thrilled to have it. While I was at Recycled, I picked up the Amy Winehouse cd - I know my mother does not (and will never) have it, so I'm not the last person on earth to have it, so that's good. I've been listening to that in the car. I especially liked the first two tracks, Rehab and You Know I'm No Good. I also snagged Delores O'Riordan's solo cd - she's the lead singer from The Cranberries. I haven't had a chance to put that one in either.

Tuesday we went to the Avett Brothers show. I only knew what I'd read in No Depression, so I guess I was expecting a kind of Old Crow Medicine Show. Which I'd have liked. Also, knowing nothing about them and having heard nothing, we hesitated to spend $20 EACH on tickets, so I entered us both to win a pair at WUIS.

We both won.

So I asked WUIS to give the extra pair back to someone who hadn't won, and they did so.

Anyway. No disrespect, I do like to support local music, but I'll just say that Big Fur seemed miscast as opener for that lineup, and their sound wasn't very good either, I'm afraid.

"My name is 'Chittlin,'" the girl in a dress and pretty Mohawk said.

She was really good and an immediate contrast: a serious singer/songwriter following a bar band, a clean, simple sound and clear voice following a kind of muddy busyness. She was shy and quiet afterward when we bought her cd and told her we liked it, too.

The Avett Brothers won me over immediately. Granted, playing so hard that you go out of tune all the time, break strings all the time, and lose your fingerpicks all the time indicates that your sound is suffering. But their harmonies and professionalism and energy were just outstanding. And their sound was smoking. I noticed that their own sound guy took over. They had a blistering hot mix. And enthusiastic fans who'd followed them from Ohio and Missouri and wherever, breaking out into hooting and screaming and requests at every opportunity.

J said they were like a civil war punk band. What kind of bluegrass band has a kick drum? What kind of rock band has a cellist? I don't have the least idea what the hell they are, except exactly what I like. Color me converted, yo. I'd keep an eye out for these guys; they'll be at big festivals in no time.

Edit: what the heck is up with my links? blogger "help" was no help.


BlogFreeSpringfield said...

Last Saturday was about the fifth or sixth time I've seen the Bottle Rockets, and although I enjoyed the show, it wasn't up to par with some of their earlier ones. Maybe it's because all of the other times I saw them they were opening for Uncle Tupelo or Wilco and they fed my anticipation.

I did enjoy the Romantics, even though there not a band I'd invite into my iPod.

I thought the band before them, Shazam, was the highlight of the evening. That was some first-rate power pop, which isn't as easy to pull off as some might think. Unfortunately, they didn't get much of a reaction from the crowd.

Every blog post I read about the Avett Brothers makes me more sorry I missed their show. I tried to win tickets on Alice, but failed.

Occula said...

I wish we'd seen some of the other bands. We were there earlier for Damwell Betters, but it was just so hot that we went home and hydrated for awhile before going back out late.

The Romantics were one of my first concerts circa 1988, but it seemed to us like they hadn't played in awhile or something. I'm glad Shazam was good.

I wish we'd been able to see Uncle Tupelo sometime. Honestly, my husband J and I are both from such an anti-country sensibility, growing up, that it took us some effort to be open-minded enough to become alt-country and roots devotees, so we're rather late bloomers in that regard.

I'm sorry you missed the Avett Bros! I would definitely see them again, but we probably wouldn't have gone if we hadn't lucked out with free tickets ourselves. They were less ... hardcore bluegrass than Old Crow Medicine show, very much their own indefinable thing, but very impressive and likeable. said...

Occula, glad to see you won tickets to the Avett Brothers show. That was definitely one of the better shows I've seen in a while. And you remembered to take your camera. Of all the times I've taken a camera with me to shows this was the one time I forgot.

And don't worry about being the last person to snag Winehouse's cd. I've been burned out on the rehab song and have avoided buying the album.

Occula said...

Hi, shoo!

It sounds like a lot of local bloggers were there. how funny!

I wish I'd charged my camera battery. I video'd a couple of songs until it went completely dead. Embarrassingly, I still have dialup - husband and I are cheap procrastinators - or they'd be on youtube already, and linked here.

I don't listen to the radio much, so I tend to totally miss out on the big hits that everyone else gets sick of. that is, I listen to NPR all day at work, and at home we usually have cds in.

Oh! if you're reading, blogfreespringfield - what Bottle Rockets cd would you recommend for a newbie?

BlogFreeSpringfield said...


The Brooklyn Side, their second album, is my favorite. Gravity Fails is an awesome song. They played several songs from this album towards the end of their show last week, which for me, was when things picked up.

I kind of lost touch with the band after I started a family and wasn't going to live shows as much.

I know that a lot of their long-time fans think that their latest album, Zoysia, is their best ever. Stephen King, yes that Stephen King, listed it in his top ten albums of 2006. His opinion doesn't mean much to me, but it did expose the band to a new demographic.


Russ said...

Definitely "The Brooklyn Side". Gravity Fails, Thousand Dollar Car, and Radar Gun are probably the biggest crowd pleasers at their shows and they're all on one CD. Zoysia is also very good.

I wasn't really feeling Shazam. Maybe it was just too early in the evening, not enough $4 beer - and far too few James Blunt covers. The Bottle Rockets were terrific (from what I recall). But it was much later in the evening, and many $4 beers later.

Occula said...

Thanks for the recs, Dan and Russ. I do remember 'Thousand Dollar Car' quite distinctly despite those four dollar beers (which also sounds like a song title, come to think of it). Another personal fave (again, newbie talking) was 'Hell or Indianapolis.'