Concert review: Old 97's with Those Darlins and Have Gun Will Travel at Skipper's Smokehouse (with photos)

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[image-1]Finally, around 10:30 p.m., the Old 97’s took the stage to a hushed and swooning audience. Lead singer Rhett Miller is, for lack of a better word, dreamy [check him out at right]. He oozed handsome ruggedness with his unbuttoned lumberjack shirt and stole the spotlight with his scruffy, low vocals. Bass player Murry Hammond looked pleasantly pained, like a true rock star might, drummer Philip Peeples was relentless and attentively keeping the beats, and guitarist Ken Bethea rocked like a statue, very concentrated but worthy of attention.


Everyone was dancing, singing along to the catchy tunes and mingling during the magnetic, energized set of music that was grungy at times yet country in nature, with artful lyrics and classic guitar riffs. They opened with “The Grand Theatre” and “The Fool,” then busted through a setlist that included nearly 30 of their songs throughout the night. Between “Let The Whiskey Take The Reins,” “A State of Texas,” “I Will Remain,” “Big Brown Eyes,” and the encore (which featured “Come Around,” “Rollerskate Skinny,” and “Timebomb”), they played an extensive array of their repertoire.


The Old 97’s are one of those bands that aren’t particularly amazing in a live setting, but are dependably great, nonetheless, old faithful rockers who put on one hell of a Wednesday night performance.


More photos by Fernando:


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Locals packed and filled Skipper’s Smokehouse last Wednesday, March 2, when alt country luminaries Old 97’s hit town on their current tour in support of their latest album. The WMNF crowd was warm and hospitable as usual, and brimming with a sense of contagious excitement that infected all the rest of the fans waiting for the show to start. [All photos by Fernando Garcia.]

kicked things off at 8 p.m. and seriously revved up the place while 'MNF volunteers ushered hundreds of fans into the sold-out show. Skipper's was full of hungry patrons, all enjoying the blaring set that radiated through the walls and windows and halfway down the street. True to form, Have Gun wowed the crowd with their indie twang, dabbling in rockabilly, Americana and danceable old timey tunes, and boasting some very sweet harmonica solos. They definitely proved their worthiness as local openers and I even ran into some fans later who said they thought Have Gun was one of the highlights of the evening.

Shortly after, Those Darlins hit the stage. The femme-centric four-piece featured three ladies (Nikki, Kelley and Jessi Darlin, the latter pictured above right) and a male drummer (Linwood Regensburg) who played  a twangy sort of garage/punk pop, with clear Joan Jett and Letters to Cleo influences. I overheard one Old 97’s fan comment that Those Darlins was “just a girl band that was great to look at and easy to listen to because they were girls, who get away with anything.” Another thought it was an odd choice to add Those Darlins to the lineup because they sounded kind of punk aggressive compared to the alt country theme of the evening. Regardless, the foursome was entertaining and performed a great soundtrack amidst the buzz and chatter of the crowd, the WMNF raffle-ticket sellers, and the diverse mix of fans in the Skipperdome. The girl power aura was palpable and Those Darlins had the sort of great chemistry that kept the vibe consistently cool and ready to rock. [Click here to check out CL's story on the band.]

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