Written by Samuel Barker
ImageLast winter, The Bottle Rockets re-released their first two albums and, finally, the band that, together with Uncle Tupelo, got the Alt. Country movement moving had a moment in the sun.

Those of you from Texas will appreciate the analogy of The Bottle Rockets to Billy Joe Shaver. For over two decades, this band has released great albums, toured the world and always alluded the credit they deserve for influencing the newest generation of country-tinged, rock n’ roll bands out in the world, either directly or indirectly.

Maybe it was the everyman persona of the band and their seeming unwillingness to create a spectacle around themselves that kept the band right on the cusp. Of course, many of their compatriots have crashed and burned or met with various reformations, lineups and dramatic moments that mirror the hilarity of the bands left from the glam metal world. Who the hell knows? The music is what really matters and The Bottle Rockets still deliver the goods on that end.

Once again, the band rolled through the south as a double-bill with Marshall Crenshaw. This relationship has worked out wonderfully for the band as they do their own set, then come out for a set with Crenshaw…another person who has created some magical music moments that just have not been noticed as much as they are deserved.

Luckily for the bands, all the belly-aching over what is deserved comes from fans, historians and music geeks like me. They are too busy playing their songs for the world.

ImageThe show kicked off with a new song titled “Monday” on the set list. While there has always been a Tom Petty meets Neil Young vibe to the Bottle Rockets’ sound, this song brought the poppier, Petty inspired rock sound, which may be simply a mental correlation of seeing vocalist/guitarist Brian Henneman tearing through the set with his Rickenbacker 360.

As always, the rhythm section of Mark Ortman (drums) and Keith Voegele (bass) were tight as can be. There is something to be said for a rhythm section that knows when to stay low-key and keep the backbeat while two lead guitarists like Henneman and John Horton trade off licks throughout the night.

The highlight of the night, for me, was the part Henneman announced to be the “Past, present and future” moments. The band played old songs like Every Kind of Everything mixed with a new song like Big Lots of Love and songs from the present reissue like Kerosene. It flowed wonderfully. A thrashing rendition of Building Chryslers, a demo from the old days that will appear on the band’s next album, was the bridge for all 3 parts of the trip.

Their set wound down with the “songs that would be hits if we ever had hits” portion of the set, which saw the band do one long run of their most popular tunes, one into another. It was definitely fan service, as the banter dropped and the songs were put out there with no breaks.

ImageAfter a short intermission, the band returned to back Marshall Crenshaw.
Crenshaw cannot help but be impressive as he runs through chords on his guitar at the pace of which his vocals create the melody. Does that make sense? It will if you see him in action.

All the favorites were played like There She Goes, Cynical Girl and, of course, Someday, Someway. The treat of the set beyond that was the peppering of quite a few new songs in the mix. As Crenshaw and the Bottle Rockets have gotten more comfortable with one another, the set list has expanded and everything felt a lot looser and more fun than it did when I saw their stop a few years ago.

When this show rolls back through town or through your town in the future, do not miss it. You get a nice preview of songs from the upcoming Bottle Rockets album and a taste of new songs from Marshall Crenshaw…and, of course, you get the classic. It is a great night of music.