Written by Samuel Barker
Apr 22, 2012 at 09:00 PM
ImageAround a year ago, Marshall Crenshaw tapped one of my all-time favorite bands, The Bottle Rockets, to be his backing band for a tour. That tour stayed up in the northeast and never made it down to Texas. A subsequent set of dates hit the midwest, but still no Texas dates.

With a combined 14 years of absence from the Houston area, my hopes were not high that there would be a show in the area. However, a date popped up at the Old Settler’s Festival in Austin, so it seemed like a possibility. Finally, the Continental posted the date and it was time to rock out!

Crenshaw has been celebrating 30 years since his self-titled debut album. From a quick glance at the setlist, you could see he would cover the popular tunes he’s crafted over the past 30 years. From the opening chords of There She Goes to the closing of Someday, Someway, the first album encapsulated the breadth of Crenshaw’s catalog wonderfully.

The first thing that stood out during the set, to me, was the sheer amount of chords that Crenshaw uses in most of his songs. There is pop rock overtones, catchy choruses and, while most people use a lead player for melody parts, Crenshaw uses chords to follow each tone of the melody. It’s impressive in person and makes you appreciate the work he puts into his songwriting.

Crenshaw shared stories for each of his songs, setting the mood, sharing the inspiration and, sometimes, offering a rebuttal to a misinformed reviewer. These short musings definitely brought the songs to life, as did the intricacy of the multiple guitar parts from Crenshaw, Brian Henneman and John Horton. The mixture of electric sitar, baritone guitar and/or lapsteel brought created gorgeously layered sounds. One of the standout moments for me was Stormy River, where it all came together perfectly.

ImageWhat first seemed like an odd pairing has shown what a brilliant idea it was to team up for this tour. From the encore closer of The Bottle Rockets’ Kit Kat Clock with Crenshaw at the lead, you could see how perfect it really was from the beginning.

Before The Bottle Rockets backed Crenshaw, they opened with a set of their own.

The Bottle Rockets hadn’t stepped foot in Houston since they opened for Lucinda Williams in 2004 at the Verizon. They’ve released a couple of albums since then, so I was excited to get to hear a few of these tracks live.

The wait didn’t last long as the band opened up with Shame on Me from their latest album, Lean Forward. Unfortunately, no tracks from Zoysia made it into the set, but who could complain about a setlist pack with classics like Welfare Music, Get Down River and an off-the-cuff run of Smokin’ 100’s Alone. Mix that with a new song Henneman wrote for his wife, Big Lots of Love and you had a great run through Bottle Rockets songs past to present.

If either of these musical entities come back, do yourself a favor and be there. Not enough of Houston was out on this night to experience such a great show. Next time, you need to be there!