Friday, January 23, 2009

What a way to end/start the year!

The Bottle Rockets were the band that first got me interested in what some might call alt-country. I know that they are hardly alt-country, but they were my gateway to Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and Wilco.

Knowing that I have always been a fan of bands I can see play in a bar or small venue, two buddies, Kyle Chapman and Kevin Nicholson, told me about the Bottle Rockets and what a great show they put on.

This was back in the Napster days so I think I downloaded the first 14 songs that came up when I did a search and burned them to a CD and tossed it in my car. This would have been right around the time that I discovered Napster, which was just months before it's demise, so we would be talking around 2001-2. Songs of Sahm was not yet out.

That disk lived in my car for about a 6 months before I wound up buying The Bottle Rockets, The Brooklyn Side, and 24 Hours a Day. Shortly there after I had a chance to see them play live at a short lived Milwaukee club called Union Station or Main Station. Right before the tour it seems their guitarist quit so they performed as a trio and dubbed the tour "Cavalcade of Hits." They ripped through every song on that original CD I had burned and you would have never guessed that they were missing a guy. Sounded great.

I have had opportunities to see the Bottle Rockets about 3 other times prior to NYE 2008. This show was the last show of 2008, a year where they celebrated their 15th anniversary by playing 15 shows. I think this was actually the 16th show, but since I missed both their Chicago and Wisconsin show during 2008, I was happy to ignore the official count.

The Beat Kitchen is a small club typical of the Schlitz tap rooms that pepper the neighborhoods of Chicago and Milwaukee. It is on a corner with the tap room in the front with windows covering the two walls opposite the bar and then there is a room in the back that at one time likely hosted neighborhood meetings, parties or receptions. This back room is where the band plays. The layout is much like Schubas.

I can go on and on about how great the show was, but I think it was typical of what you would see at any Bottle Rockets show... Great songs, few if any breaks, energetic performances and a sea of people singing along with the band. I think the highlight for me was a Neil Young song called Lookout Joe. I am not a big Neil Young fan at all, so this was the first time I had heard the song.

I was lucky enough to capture a great recording of the show and to meet up with some other fans who shot some video. I was able to sync my audio to their videos and came up with some really nice live videos from the night that I posted on Youtube. You can check them out here.

I will note that while the band likes to joke that their fan base is 99% male, this show was closer to 60% male, 40% female, and the girls were right there up front screaming out the words too. If you check out any of the videos that I posted on youtube you will see the entire front row is women.

Here is a set list:

Perfect Far Away
Gravity Fails
Slo Toms
Gas Girl
Brand New Year
Wave That Flag
Every Kind of Everything
24 Hours a Day
Headed for the Ditch
Happy Anniversary
Get Down River
I'll Be Coming Around
1000 Dollar Car
Nancy Sinatra
Gotta Get Up
Ooo La La (Faces Cover)
Welfare Music
Radar Gun
Take Me to the Bank
Suffragette City (David Bowie Cover)
Love Like a Truck
Lookout Joe (Neil Young Cover)
When I Was Dumb
Kit Kat Clock

If the last shows you have seen have been big arena rockers or larger theaters, get out to see the Bottle Rockets at a bar near you. I assure you that it will be the best $15 you spend!