Written by Samuel Barker
Mar 11, 2013 at 10:00 PM
ImageProbably my favorite band from Columbus, OH, Two Cow Garage takes elements from all the music I love and mixes it into tunes that find you singing along triumphantly with each word Micah Schnabel and Shane Sweeney belt out.

With SXSW going on, we here in Houston are fortunate enough to get a visit from folks tired of the menagerie of billboards, bloated corporate sponsors and starving artists that Austin becomes flooded with during the event. They come down 290 to share a much more comfortable version of the SXSW experience with us.

Two Cow Garage set up at Ashford Pub way out on the west side of Houston for a free show and I was beyond excited to see the announcement just a few hours before the show started. One of the positives of the social media movement, I must admit.

A Monday night in Houston is a tough time to have a show. I have seen some amazing bands play to 5 or less people on Monday night. Being that Houston had not received a visit from Two Cow Garage since 2010, I was pulling for a solid turnout so the boys would come back before long. Luckily, Houston did not disappoint on this night. A solid audience filled up the makeshift stage area for a night that surely would be filled with rocking tunes, sing-alongs and good-hearted fun.

In the midst of raising money for the release of their new album, The Death of the Self-Preservation Society, TCG had plenty of new tunes to put on display for the audience. I, for one, have put my money in for the effort and I am certain many of the others in attendance had done the same.

For close to an hour, the band tore through an electric set that left some older patrons of Ashford Pub searching for the door, but saw far more regulars make their way closer to the band. The set consisted mostly of songs from the new album, Speaking in Cursive and Sweet Saint Me, which kept the pacing high and the rocking tunes flowing forth until Sweeney’s amp started to give out. They soldiered through the cutting out of the bass until Schnabel’s guitar string broke.

For most bands, this would have been the end of the night. Equipment failure is an easy excuse for cutting and running with your paycheck despite minimal effort given. However, Two Cow Garage is a band that lives to play, not make money. The on-stage rapport and signaling between Schnabel and Sweeney instantly shows the deep connection between the two and their music. So, with the bass amp needing a break, an acoustic was broken out “for a few more songs.”

These “few” songs started with Sweeney playing a collection of songs from his solo album, The Finding Time, and some new tunes like Didn’t Ask To Be Born, a song covering a friend’s suicide, another friend’s overdose and another acquaintances’ coming out as transgender. It was definitely a touching song that led to a moment of reflection.

Next up, Schnabel grabbed the acoustic for a few acoustic tunes before calling it a night.

That quickly turned into him belting out request after request. Various songs from his solo album, I’m Dead, Serious, and assorted TCG songs like “Lydia.” Drummer, David Murphy, showed his range by picking up the sticks and playing lightly with Schnabel’s acoustic tunes. Some of which he had not played before. It was an impressive display of talent. After a half dozen songs, Schnabel decided to wind it down. The plan was 2 more Sweeney songs and 2 more of his songs.

Sweeney played his 2 songs and Schnabel walked back up for his final pair. Of course, the requests started flying towards the stage once again. This led to another half dozen songs climaxing with Sweeney strapping his bass back on and testing his luck with his amp to do a full-band closer of The Great Gatsby. The band seemed unsure how it would translate with Schnabel on acoustic, but the song was great. Everyone sang along and some audience members took control of Sweeney’s microphone to bring the night to an end.

This was one of those nights that reaffirm your love for music and makes you realize, for you, that there is nothing more important in this world than the beauty, camaraderie and euphoria that comes from sharing in the art of this world. It was a good night to be alive.