One of the things that first attracted me to this music scene all those year ago was the live show. The songs hooked me first, but the live experience sunk the teeth in. I’d been around concerts, but mainly of the big, arena or shed variety. Household names. Spectacle. Show business. When I first saw Pat Green and company burn down a dive bar with the same intensity I’d seen Metallica give at Texas Stadium, I was done for. The fact that I could go buy a t-shirt after the gig from the artist himself was another calling card. The access. In pre-social media days those 90 second merch booth interactions were sacred. Meet your hero, interact and walk away with a souvenir. It helped that he sang songs I could relate to. Songs that were seemingly authentic. PG sang about putting Lone Star Beer in his cereal…so we did.
Jack Ingram’s shows of that era are still the most intense performances I’ve seen from anyone in this scene not named Lincoln Durham. Cory Morrow’s energy was frenetic. Then came the next era with Randy Rogers Band and Wade Bowen. The frontmen were complimentary performers and the band was the show. Brady Black on fiddle and an array of guys that have passed through the West 84 crew stole the spotlight. Then came JAB and WCG…who followed the RRB/WB format.
The most recent crop of scene headliners have placed their own spin on things. Flatland Cavalry flipped the script on the Brady show by having the lovely Laura Jane Houle do flashy fiddling. Koe Wetzel turned his live show into a millenial mashup of rockand country. And Sam Riggs lit a guitar on fire. People seem to have forgotten, in the wake of GuitarGate, that he also plays fiddle and drums during his gigs and generally puts on a great show. Shane Smith and the Saints have a celtic-folk-rock feel that washes over you as if Reckless Kelly has Eagles harmonies. There’s an entire new generation of bands adding their own signatures to the hallowed halls of Texas Music history.
They’re doing it with the live show. Radio is dying and confused. Albums and streaming dominate…but even they are just a marketing tool to get folks to the gig.
Live gigs should be entertaining. Whether they are no cover laid back affairs or dropped a mortgage payment on StubHub events. Be it hallowed songwriter shushed audience or a raucous, beer-spraying mob…you should feel like you witnessed something transcendent. Not all shows will be remarkable…but they should resonate.
I’m such a music die-hard, that I take in shows differently than most and I get that. I’ve had friends tell me they’d never noticed the lead guitar player motioning to the FOH engineer or the lead singer yelling into the talkback mic until I pointed it out to them. I want to sing along, take it all in, people watch and watch the musicians interact with one another. Adding elements to the stage experience makes it that much sweeter.
See you at the show. I’ll be taking it all in and I hope you will too.
-Father John Misty is most likely classified as Ameicana and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
-Played in a golf tournament and won 1st place the other day. What does one do with a trophy from something like that? I think I may donate it to my favorite watering hole as decor.
-Saw a little league coach nearly go viral for the wrong reasons the other day. Bro…you’re not playing and it’s not for a pennant or scholarship…let’s chill.
-Our official podcast The Co-Write is cranking out the gems. After I guested, the most recent guest was Justin Frazzel and there are more on the way!
-Heading to LA next month and the traffic already has me insane…7 weeks out. Taking in a show at the Hollywood Bowl and a Dodger game. Open to other suggestions.
-I missed LJT for the first time in 20 years…but am already eagerly anticipating Rhymes and Vines.
-This month’s recommended album: John Moreland – Big Bad Luv. Moreland cranks up the amps and emotion on this one. The songs cut as starkly as they ever have…but this time they are backed by enough horsepower to quadruple the emotional impact.
-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain