TVD Live Shots: Old 97s at the 9:30 Club, 10/26

The Old 97s, touring behind the 15th anniversary of their stellar Too Far To Care record, hit a sold out 9:30 Club last week, and it was tough to know who was showing more enthusiasm, the band for playing the 9:30 Club, or the audience for being there to hear them play.

Too Far To Care is one of those records that steals your heart while kicking your ass and your eardrums in the space of 13 songs. From Ken Bethea’s wicked guitar riff on track 1, “Timebomb,” to Phillip Peebles’ tribal drumming in back of the Rhett Miller/Exene Cervenka (X) “Four Leaf Clover” that ends the record, Too Far to Care shows off the band’s musical chops and influences that flow under lead singer Rhett Miller’s vocals and lyrical word play.

And as the band was playing it from start to finish, from the volume of the audience sing alongs to the choruses in “Barrier Reef” and “Wt. TX Teardrops,” you’d think it was the audience.

However, Friday being the first time in years the 97s had played the 9:30 Club, it was obvious the band wanted to be sure that this show was one for the books. It’s always a thrill seeing bands amp it up a notch when playing there, almost to be sure they don’t fail the history that preceded them. And this is a band whose live show is always turned up to 11.

Upon finishing the entirety of Too Far to Care, The Old 97s continued, pulling tracks from the other six records in their catalog, including a downright knock-out version of “If My Heart Was a Car” from their first record, Hitchhike to Rhome.. The best part of the night was right before the last song of the encore when bassist Murry Hammond, responding to a quip by Miller, said, “”We arent on Dischord. Now I gotta follow that up with a punk rock version of “Valentine.” I would if I could.” Here’s hoping that Hammond, a known punk fan, makes that amazing thought into reality.

Salim Nourallah, out of Dallas, and Rhett Miller playing solo acoustic, took on opener slots for the evening. Nourallah and his band were full of fun and poptastic-hooky songs.

Supporting the record, Hit Parade, Nourallah and company answered the question, “Where can a colorful indie band that’s one part Weird Al, one part a lounge act, and two parts The Ramones, get matching beige polyester suits for six guys of all sizes?” (The answer: Ebay!) (Nourallah’s name may also be familiar as he was the producer of recent Old 97s records as well as Rhett Miller’s first solo record.)

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