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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hello CoMo! 
or the midwest is not Too Far to Care

Okay, so it's no secret how much I love all things Rhett Miller/Old 97's. I know people think I'm nuts for traveling hither and yon to watch him/them play time and again. What can I say? He/they're just that good. They make me happy, even when they're singing about heartache, loneliness and betrayal. Hell, maybe because of it. Whatever. Nobody writes about life's pathos, with a healthy dose of sexual innuendo like Mr. Miller. Besides, they never ever disappoint and I always always ALWAYS come away feeling invigorated, ecstatic and exhausted, in a good way.

the reason i have mileage points

Fortunately, I'm not alone in my fervor. This sort of devotion is a first for me, but there are innumerable others who have logged many more miles over many more years than I. The cool thing about this band, I guess it could be said for other bands as well, is the number of really wonderful fans in their base willing to embrace other devotees.

Rock 'n Roll Spit Take!

Last week (has it been a week already?!?) I finally got the chance to meet, in the flesh, a Midwest girl, Leslie with whom I've been imaginary friends for over three years. She lives in Columbia, Missouri and -- SURPRISE -- the Old 97's just so happen to be playing in her town. She and I have been talking about hitting a show together for a long while now, so when the dates for the 97's Too Far To Care 15th anniversary tour posted and CoMo was on the short list, it was a no-brainer.


Meeting a friend AND seeing my favorite band perform its watershed album top to bottom? Yes, Please!

Leslie, Sheri and Wende
the fabulous midwest contingent
One never knows what one is walking into with these sort of meet ups, but I knew in my heart I would love Leslie. She's awesome. Smart, sassy, warm, welcoming and she shares my love of the f-bomb. Like my dear friend, Steph, Les has a similarly zany 10 year-old boy sense of humor. We clicked right away. Sadly, Steph, my RM/97's partner-in-crime couldn't make the trip because she was having her own party with this adorable creature.

OMG! Those cheeks are squeezably delicious!
Ridiculously adorable!

I could not be more ecstatic for her and her hubby, but selfishly, I missed her. Again, Science Nerds...what the hell?! Get on that cloning thang already! What's the hold up, man? Chop Chop! Geez!!

But I digress...

There was a veritable three-point convergence on Leslie's and her brainiac husband, Bert's home. Bert's a self-proclaimed nerd and a wonderfully tolerant man who gracefully suffers his wife's obsession, much like Geo.

cuteness abounds

Wende came from the west (Kansas), Sheri and Mike from the north (Chicago) and I from the east. This group could not have been more wonderful or easy to be around. I really like these ladies (and gents). I felt comfortable immediately. No judgmental looks. No eye-rolling. No audible sighs of disgust. We were all on the same page with the freedom to be as geeked as we wanted to be.

Columbia is a beautiful college town hosting the University of Missouri (Mizzou) and two smaller colleges, reminiscent of well-established eastern college towns. The street crossings are paved with the same bricks as the stately halls of education. There are a handful of eclectic boutique shops sprinkled amongst a variety of eateries and clubs. Of course I didn't take any photos because I'm a dolt, but here's one from the interwebz now.

standard stock photo of Jesse Hall

We headed to a popular local haunt, Broadway Brewery where we feasted on pre-show cocktails, delectable food and great conversation with some pretty amazing dinner guests. I'm still mulling it over, hoping against hope I was somewhat intelligible without being a monosyllabic moron. Well, at least an intelligible monosyllabic moron anyway. Tres cool. I'm still smiling. Some events are more memorable than others. (Insert big, goofy-ass grin here)

Meanwhile back at the venue...

Once inside, our posse doubled in size as we staked our claim in front, Murry side. Rhett's doing double duty for this and the October tour as the opener. He joked about knowing the guys in the headlining band (they're pretty good) before lighting up the stage with his usual intensity, working up a sweat with his six-song setlist of solo work including the Old 97's rarity, Holy Cross. I NEVER want him to stop singing, but it is a bit easier to say goodbye when you know he's coming back in an hour.

I still think his spit sprays are hawt.

Filling out the middle bill were Tennessee natives, Those Darlins. I've been wanting to catch Those Darlins in action since SXSW in 2010 when we missed everyone of their sets after making some difficult musical Sophie's Choices. They're raw and punky and crunchy with a stoned, lesbian kind of vibe. I don't know what I'm saying. I'm just making shit up. Bottom line: they're energetic, fun and all over the place.

Jesse got all fancied up for the occasion
Baby Girl needs a hoagie, yo
coz she ain't got no butt

Murry and Rhett both have said the girls remind them of the 97's 18 years ago. Lead singer, Jesse does thrash her curly mop around like a certain blue-eyed lovely.

You might recognize Red Light Love from a car commercial.

Ken joined the Darlins for their final song.

Dude. You could poke an eye out flipping that pick in the audience like that. lol

They were fun. I'm glad to have finally seen them in action.

By the time our favorite foursome ambled out, the crowd was primed to hear its favorite album start to finish. From the first note of Time Bomb which opens the record, (I know. Weird, right? Playing the closer as the opener is madness, I say. Madness.) to the last lingering chord of Four Leaf Clover the audience was with them, belting out every lyric, reaching for every high note and matching every head thrust with Mr. M.

I have no words to describe how incredible it is to hear the entire venue singing along to every song at the top of their collective lungs. I can't even begin to imagine how fucking rewarding it is to be the writer of those words, standing on stage, listening to that volume rushing back to you. Why, he must feel like the King of All of the World. (fan joke)

They filled in the rest of the set with a heavy dose of their latest, The Grand Theatre (Vol 1 & 2) and a handful of classics, ending not on the usual epic Time Bomb, but rollicking Won't Be Home requested by a pretty coed.

And just like that... they were done.

Okay, it wasn't THAT short an evening, but I'm never ready to call it a night. And it was unsettling not to end with Time Bomb. It seemed unfinished. Fortunately, everyone came out to say goodbye and grab a hug before boarding the bus for Dallas.

I like the midwest version of Old 97's. They're relaxed, open and untethered by corporate brass that sometimes dominates their New York shows.

Murry's such a great sport

photo bombed by flat sarah 

Sweaty, raw-throated, ears buzzing and grinning ear-to-ear with our new groovy merch in our hands, we hung out at Leslie's for another 2+ hours rehashing the night that was full of uncharted awesome.

dude. get your head out of the engine

I was so sad to say farewell and board my little plane in Columbia. I had such a fabulous time finally meeting my wonderful imaginary friends and sharing an evening shaking our asses in front of our favorite band in the land.

nesting-squirrel-hair girl, Sheri, Wende and Les down front

As I said earlier, some events are more memorable than others. This was one of those. I love these four men for their talent, their generosity and for the amazing people they have placed in my orbit. Thanks to my new sista wreckers for the camaraderie and rollicking good time. Can't wait for our paths to cross again.

Rhett's solo set:
Lost Without You
Holy Cross
Sweet Dreams
Come Around
Out of Love
Wreck of the Old 97

Old 97's set:
Too Far to Care in its entirety
Mama Tried
Marquita/Bright Spark
(or as it says on the set list, Marq/BS)
Champaign, IL
White Port (audible)
Every Night is Friday Night
I'm a Train Wreck

Valentine (electrified w/entire band)
Won't Be Home (by request)