Old 97’s at Showbox at the Market
Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 7PM
By Sarah Volpone
I’m a superfan. I’ve seen the Old 97’s and lead singer Rhett Miller more times than I can count, and rarely miss an opportunity to go to a show.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I want to tell you why you shouldn’t miss this particular Old 97s show, even if you’re not a superfan.
On Tuesday, the Old 97’s will be playing Too Far To Care, their classic 1997 release, in its entirety. This was the band’s first album on a major label, at a time when that mattered.
The Old 97’s are lead singer Miller, bassist Murry Hammond, guitarist Ken Bethea, and drummer Philip Peeples. Originally labeled alt-country when they started playing in the early 90’s, they both transcend this genre and borrow liberally from another, power pop. Regardless of any label, they put on a high energy show.
Looking back it’s easy to see everything coming together. Unlike some of their early releases, from the first track on Too Far to Care the Old 97s demonstrate the perfect intersection of country, rock, and pop. Start to finish the album is great, boasting 13 remarkable tracks without any filler, and all the songs are as good as any other song in the band’s catalog.
Too Far To Care starts strong with “Timebomb,” a tune so irresistibly rollicking that it traditionally closes all Old 97’s shows. One of my favorite songs is next, “Barrier Reef”, with innuendo- laden lyrics that demonstrate Miller’s ability to tell engaging stories within his songs.
By the fourth track, “Salome”, a perfectly hushed reflection on heartbreak, the album has already covered an amazing range of tempo and emotion. It’s almost hard to believe it flows so perfectly together.
This effortless continuity is a feat repeated over and over on the album, with beautiful, reflective tracks (“West Texas Teardrops”, a solo track by Hammond, “Streets of Where I’m From”) sequenced just right with the raucous and bold (“Melt Show”, “Big Brown Eyes”). The album even has the perfect guest, Exene Cervenka of X, on closer “Four Leaf Clover.”
Although every Old 97’s show includes a few tracks from Too Far to Care, this is an opportunity to hear all of the songs live, in order. The band is clearly embracing this anniversary of this classic too; make sure to check out rhettmiller.com, for Miller’s insight on each track on the album.
Miller opens the show with a solo set and then Those Darlins hit the stage before the Old 97’s play Too Far To Care from start to finish, then some other songs from their catalog. I’ll be up front, Murry-side, singing along.