Written by James Killen
If this show was any indicator of Tuesday nights at Main Street Crossing, I would risk a last minute trip out there to catch a show on some other Tuesday. The usually packed venue was only about half full for the Bottle Rockets’ first showing in Tomball, but it would seem that every seat could claim a die-hard fan.
Singer/songwriter, Ryan Culwell, opened the show for the evening, offering up a nice array of rural Texas imagery, while accompanying himself on guitar. Ryan is traveling along with this leg of the Bottle Rockets’ tour as they are out promoting the 2018 disc, “Bit Logic”.
Brian Henneman and the boys kicked it off with the title track to the new one, followed quickly by the CD’s second number “Highway 70 Blues”. The evening was structured around “Bit Logic”, pretty much in order of the disc with an old favorite thrown in here and there to keep the interest of the fans. They ramped up the tempo and the volume with the guitar rocking “Radar Gun”, before settling the tongue in cheek quandary about which category their music should occupy. The song, “Bad Time to be an Outlaw”, was introduced as though the Bottle Rockets were sharing the Outlaw Country genre exclusively with Willie Nelson.
The set rolled on, sliding fan favorite, “$1000 Car” between cuts from the new album. Throughout the evening Brian pulled in audience participation with a gospel style call and response to refrains of the songs. Henneman used a psychedelic guitar intro to open a monologue about resisting negativity and depression by deleting his Facebook account as a segue to “Doomsday Letter” written in the same vein. The regular set closed out with the sentimental last cut of Bit Logic, “Silver Ring” sandwiched between Rocket standards, “Indianapolis” and “Love Like a Truck”.
The band took requests for the encore before finally shutting the evening down with Waylon Jenning’s outlaw country classic, “Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way”. Even with a number of open seats, the audience delivered appreciative applause for a full on performance.
Having been performing together since the early 1990’s, The Bottle Rockets can still rock and deliver that subtle simple wit that belies a sophisticated talent. The oldies are still full of guitar driven vim and vigor, but the newer songs show signs of (gasp, heaven forbid) maturity. Bit Logic shows a more introspection, but is every bit as creative and satisfying as the earlier records.
It was great to have the Rockets shoot through Texas and make a big bang in Tomball. I hope to catch them at Main Street Crossing again next tour.