Old 97’s & Banditos – 9:30 Club – Washington, DC – October 17, 2015
It is so perfect that during this time of Back to the Future reminiscences, Old 97’s are touring. A band that would fit right in circa 1955 with a few appearance alterations (Rhett Miller would at least have to button a few more buttons) and content tweaks (controlled substance references galore in Most Messed Up for starters) rocked the socks off of Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club last Saturday.
They sound so timeless yet wholly refreshing in 2015 that one could wonder why they do not play larger venues than the 9:30 Club or Union Transfer [in Philadelphia]. But why should they lose the intimacy of playing to 1,000 or so rabid fans of their alt-country-rock-punk mash-up?
Before a near sell-out of a late show (they did not go on until 11:30), they rocketed through a 27 song set with not a clunker in site. Songs with hooks galore like “Barrier Reef” and “Let’s Get Drunk and Get It On” pulsated within the glorious room that Miller heaped mountains of praise on, saying it is their favorite East Coast venue.
Miller was in a gravity-free zone, bouncing in the air throughout, delivering his trademark windmill strumming and smile hair-swish combo interludes that excite ladies and gents alike.
The band, certainly one of the tightest rock outfits around, played quite a bit with tempo, speeding up and slowing down at will. Murry Hammond’s bass and vocals soak the sound in a little more of the South. Ken Bethea’s rambling-man guitar work amazed, taking him from one side of the stage to the other, letting the guitar will his path into our ears. Last, but certainly not least, is Philip Peeples’ masterful drumming, rounding out the set of rollicking rockers.
The twenty year anniversary of Wreck Your Life afforded them the chance to dust off some early works, including a memorable cover of Jon Langford’s “Over the Cliff.” And notably, and welcomingly, missing was the non-stop played love ballad “Question.” In its place was one of Miller’s outstanding tracks from his 2015 solo record The Traveler, “Most in the Summertime,” which Miller blew through as the encore opener. The finale of “Timebomb” was a brilliant end to a grand rock show. If you can see them on this tour, do so!
Opening for them was the alt country outfit, Banditos. Front and center is the charm of Mary Beth Richardson, bringing striking vocals and tambourine to life. Surrounded by the original membership of Corey Parsons and Stephen Price and more talent, Banditos were a treat, showing that their 2015 self-titled first release promises for a bright future.
Copyright ©2015 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 21, 2015.
Photos ©2015 Chris Sikich.