Old 97’s Bring Rocked-Up Alt-Country to New York – Review and Exclusive Photos
With the faint hint of hops filling the air from the nearby Brooklyn Brewery to the almost therapeutic sounds of bowling balls crashing into pins, alt-country trailblazers Old 97’s seem to fit right at home in New York City’s Brooklyn Bowl. Having played there several times before, they kicked off the first set of a two-night stint last night and performed 27 songs that covered their illustrious 20-year career.
For nearly two hours, Old 97’s jammed tunes from every single one of their albums, save for 1999’s ‘Fight Songs.’ Opening with ‘If My Heart Was a Car’ from their first record, frontman Rhett Miller and company spent very little time chatting with the audience and instead focused on playing song after song, creating a night of nonstop alt-country and rock ‘n’ roll bliss.
While the set was highlighted with a vast selection of songs, the band seemed most at ease with tracks from its latest album, ‘Most Messed Up.’ This was evident during the high-energy and dynamic performance of ‘Longer Than You’ve Been Alive,’ a seemingly autobiographical ditty that felt like it could have ended the set thanks to its live intensity.
For anyone who remotely follows the Old 97’s on the road, one of the most exciting aspects to their live show is the fact that no two nights are the same. With 10 studio albums under their belt, they have a huge catalog that they feel at ease rifling through to keep things fresh night after night. This allows them to stay true to their alt-country rock roots, always paying homage to the music they’ve created throughout their career. That likely comes easy to them because they’ve never undergone any lineup changes since they formed in the early ’90s; there is a sense of comfortable camaraderie between the band members, and it’s crystal clear when seeing their live performance.
That camaraderie lent itself to Miller taking a step back a few times so bassist Murry Hammond could handle vocal duties. Hammond — a very animated performer — sang four songs last night, including the new track ‘The Ex of All You See’ and the classic Merle Haggard tune ‘Mama Tried.’
Opening the night was 26-year-old Dallas native Madison King. Like the Old 97’s, King puts a rock ‘n’ roll spin on her country music, and Miller even co-wrote — and performed last night — a track with her, ‘Feel Like Fallin’ in Love.’ The friendship is so strong that Miller later invited King back out to the stage to help him close the set with ‘Four Leaf Clover’ from the band’s major-label debut, ‘Too Far to Care.’
Old 97’s have shows scheduled through October, including a slot at this year’s Dia De Los Toadies festival in Ft. Worth. Get a full list of tour dates here. Take a look at our exclusive pics from last night’s concert:
Old 97’s Set List, Aug. 7, 2014
‘If My Heart Was a Car’
‘Dance With Me’
‘Longer Than You’ve Been Alive’
‘The Ex of All You See’
‘W. TX Teardrops’
‘Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)’
‘The New Kid’
’This is the Ballad’
‘Give It Time’
‘Can’t Get a Line’
‘I’m a Trainwreck’
‘Big Brown Eyes’
‘Four Leaf Clover’
‘Let’s Get Drunk & Get It On’
And here’s the official lyric video for ‘Long Than You’ve Been Alive':