A near sold out crowd greeted Jason Boland & The Stragglers and openers Thieving Birds on an icy Friday night in Saint Louis. The house was packed, the beer line was long, and the cowboy hats were at a record high for downtown STL.
Touring off of their relatively newly released album Gold Coast, Thieving Birds opened the show with their pure brand of Southern rock ‘n’ roll. With only four members, they create a big sound that’s quite reminiscent of Creedence Clearwater Revival, a band that Thieving Birds paid homage to with an especially soulful version of “Green River.”
Mixing favorites from their first album (“Save My Soul” and “Memphis”) along with fiery versions of Gold Coast standouts “Graveyard Love,” “Black Canyon Boom,” and “In Your Arms,” Thieving Birds really showed what they were capable of on the last night of their run of shows opening for Boland. Although contained to a meager 45 minutes, this was a very impressive set. These guys deserve some support.
Jason Boland & The Stragglers came on next, while I was still outside near the fire pit interviewing Ace and Beau from Thieving Birds. From outside the venue, I could hear Boland’s truly remarkable baritone vocals booming out of the speakers, along with a hundred plus fans singing along with every word.
Three songs into the setlist, Boland played two of my favorite songs back to back: the Southern rock jam “Pushing Luck” and the Pearl Snaps classic “Somewhere Down in Texas.” The latter of these was received by a huge amount of enthusiasm.
“Tulsa Time,” which was covered on his recent live release High in the Rockies, was also received quite enthusiastically by the crowd. Shortly after, Boland explained his feelings towards writing country songs before playing “Ludlow,” saying, “I think people’s taste in music sucks, but that’s just me. We could’ve wrote a country song about lakes and trucks, but instead we wrote one about the Ludlow Massacre.”
After a solid set of unadulterated Oklahoma honky-tonk, Boland & The Stragglers wrapped up their night with the crowd favorite “When I’m Stoned.” Moments later, Boland played an encore of three songs, including another personal favorite “Comal County Blue.”
Perched on the second floor of the venue, I peaked down at the sound booth to see that the setlist was fully completed, and I expected Boland and the band to step off the stage after a great night of music. Boland, however, did not seem ready to call it a night. After what looked like a brief moment of contemplation, Boland walked up to the mic and said, “Would you like to hear a couple more? We got time, we ain’t got nowhere to be.”
At this point my night was made, and I enjoyed one last beverage while Boland played three more songs for what I guess should be considered a double encore. They finally called it a night with a spirited version of the Comal County Blue closer “Outlaw Band.”
Despite the urban Midwest locale and the dangerous road conditions, a packed house witnessed Thieving Birds and Jason Boland & The Stragglers play their asses off. Rock on.
In between sets, I had the privilege to ask the Ace (lead vocals/guitar) and Beau (drums) of Thieving Birds a few questions. Note: I used the simple tag “Thieving Birds” to represent the answers that Ace and Beau gave.
Dallas Terry: How’s the reception been at the shows since the release of your newest album?
Thieving Birds: It’s been great considering the fact that we play little bit more rock than most people would like.
DT: Yeah that’s interesting that your band tours with bands like Jason Boland & The Stragglers. How do you feel about being involved in this scene?
Thieving Birds: Well it’s a very welcoming scene. The people like good music and they come out to the shows. Plus there’s a lot of camaraderie between bands. The rock scene is much more cut-throat. We were involved in the rock scene for about ten years and it’s way more competitive than this scene. In this scene everyone just kind of helps each other out.
DT: How do you feel about the decision to switch scenes from rock to this one?
Thieving Birds: It was a great decision.
DT: Any new plans with the band?
Thieving Birds: Our new single just came out; it’s called “Brother Ryan.”
DT: If you could only play one venue for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Thieving Birds: The Blue Light Live in Lubbock.
DT: If you could only take three albums with you to a desert island, what would they be?
Ace: Silverchair – Diorama
Beau: Metallica – Master of Puppets
Both: Radiohead – Hail to the Thief