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Saw the Old 97's last night!

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Saw the Old 97's last night!

Postby fisticuffs » Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:18 am

They played Too Far To Care from start to finish and then some greatest hits after that. I kind of expected a little more polish than 10 years ago but I think it was the opposite. Still great but the drummer didn't seem to know how to end several of the tunes and the lead guitar was a little on the sloppy side. I guess that's more true to that album though. The more recent tunes were a lot tighter but of course not my favorite songs. Rhett opened acoustic and was outstanding all by himself. The Travolta's played after that. Some interesting music to be sure. Lots of Lounge-y jazzy stuff but I couldn't get into the singer (who produced 3 97's records). Overall glad I got to see them. So much energy for guys getting a little longer in the tooth.

Anyone else go?
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Re: Saw the Old 97's last night!

Postby wallrock » Thu Oct 18, 2012 10:34 am

I'd really planned on going to see this but I never got tickets ahead of time and at 6:00 last night I was still at work and I didn't feel I had it in me. I felt shitty about it but I was tired and I saw Rhett solo a couple months ago. I kind of regret missing it today.
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Re: Saw the Old 97's last night!

Postby ArturoBandini » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:45 am

I was there too. Old 97's are one of my favorite bands, but I'll recognize that much of that favoritism is probably based on nostalgia for the times around when the albums were current.

The show was what I expected, in terms of delivery and musicianship. I've always said that the Old 97's don't owe their success to musicianship, but rather songwriting. Ken (guitar) seems barely competent (did you hear his flubs while noodling in the intro to "Salome"?), although he makes up for it in attitude. Rhett seems incapable of playing anything other than open chords. Murray, with his ever-present "ooohs" and "aaahs", is the glue that keeps the band together in a technical sense, in my opinion. They don't have to be technically precise because it really doesn't matter for the songs, which are very traditional midtempo 4-chord verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus stuff. But we like that, so why change a winning formula?

I thought the sound was a little off from my spot near the back of the orchestra pit. Very little thump on the bass drum, no clarity on the bass guitar and the lead guitar was never loud enough. Oh well, I still had a lovely time.
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Re: Saw the Old 97's last night!

Postby fisticuffs » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:01 pm

I thought the sound was a little off from my spot near the back of the orchestra pit. Very little thump on the bass drum, no clarity on the bass guitar and the lead guitar was never loud enough. Oh well, I still had a lovely time.


The lead was killing us during Too Far to Care but got lost after that? The vocals also seemed to go in and out too much as well. Have to give the sound guy a solid D considering the room and that they've been on the road long enough to work that stuff out. Rhett may be a lot of open chords but he plays them with a ton of style.
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Re: Saw the Old 97's last night!

Postby ArturoBandini » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:16 pm

I might give the sound guy some slack if he was with the band, not staff at the Overture. That is a pretty live room, probably not designed for amplified music. It might have sounded great to him, sitting in the back. The lead guitar might have been panned hard left, I was on the right side.

Rhett does know how to sell a four-chord strum using his body (swoon). On his solo set, I was disappointed that he didn't adapt the guitar parts somewhat to suit the fact that he would be playing them without accompaniment (or leads/melodies of any sort). He should have created more space in the songs, instead of filling up any open space with furious strumming. One can find more interesting solo acoustic guitar playing at virtually any open-mic in Madison.
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Re: Saw the Old 97's last night!

Postby ilikebeans » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:32 pm

ArturoBandini wrote:I might give the sound guy some slack if he was with the band, not staff at the Overture. That is a pretty live room, probably not designed for amplified music. It might have sounded great to him, sitting in the back.

When Overture was rebuilt, the Capitol Theater was remodeled with an eye (ear?) toward improving the acoustics. The shows I've seen there since have been great, including The Warren Haynes Band with full rock instrumentation plus horns.

There's no excuse for an engineer to not get a good sound in that room.
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Re: Saw the Old 97's last night!

Postby jjoyce » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:43 pm

At the risk of sounding like a grump, what's the point of seeing the Old 97's at an 'r' before 'e' theatre if the sound is anything less than excellent?

The Old 97's are one of the great bar bands, a band that put on performances that stick in the memories of any who experienced them at small joints. Rhett Miller and Murry Hammond used to look over at each other through fogged up glasses wearing stretched-out white t-shirts and black Chuck Taylors. There was no time for tuning as they careened through their catalog and no room for multliple guitars on the cramped stages where they played. Their runaway train songs went along perfectly with the grubby interiors of these joints (I saw them at both Lounge Ax in Chicago and O'Cayz Corral here, great rock clubs that no longer exist). When they sang "driving into Cleveland in a seven seater tour van..." you could believe that an actual seven seater tour van was parked out back.

Can those songs feel the same when played from the stage of a beautifully rehabbed theater with lots of cushy seating that serves beer in sippy cups? No, but they should at least sound exquisite, right? If not, then how does the alt country experience translate in such surroundings? The "alt" does stand for alternative, after all. Alternative to what? The kind of country act that plays in venues with beer in sippy cups, I'm thinking.

I love the Old 97's and enjoy every interview with those guys. But I prefer to remember them they way they were 15 years ago.
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Re: Saw the Old 97's last night!

Postby fisticuffs » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:49 pm

At the risk of sounding like a grump, what's the point of seeing the Old 97's at an 'r' before 'e' theatre if the sound is anything less than excellent?


Yeah excellent was what I was expecting. Given the maturity of the band and the awesome room/tech compared to when they first toured with this album I was hoping for something great sound-wise. Not that there isn't a charm to a fly by the seat of your pants bar-room gig. But in 2012 I expect great sound in those rooms as well. I play all sorts of tiny shit-holes and our sound guy does a better job at all of them than what I heard last night. I don't think a shitty mix enhances the experience.
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Re: Saw the Old 97's last night!

Postby ArturoBandini » Thu Oct 18, 2012 2:31 pm

jjoyce wrote:When they sang "driving into Cleveland in a seven seater tour van..." you could believe that an actual seven seater tour van was parked out back.
I came in the back way. They literally did have a van with a U-Haul, so it's still not that far off the mark. There was no tour bus.
jjoyce wrote:a beautifully rehabbed theater with lots of cushy seating that serves beer in sippy cups?
Jesus I hate those sippy cups. It gives the impression that the management thinks of their patrons as children.

I would have much preferred to see this show at High Noon or an even smaller venue. I'll take what I can get though.

On the sound quality thing - I think that I'm just getting much pickier about live sound. As others have noted, even budget-level PA equipment these days sounds pretty good, so the minimum-acceptability bar is set considerably higher than a few decades ago. I also think that, even if it were re-habbed with amplified sound in mind, it's hard to get a tight rock sound in a room that has a stage that is 40 feet deep and 40 feet tall. Meanwhile the room itself is 60 feet tall and 100 feet wide (just guessing here). So bouncy... Compare to a place like The Frequency where the entire venue is smaller than the stage at Capitol Theatre, and the ceiling is about 4' above the performers' heads. There is nowhere for the sound to go, once it leaves the speakers, other than directly into the audience.
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