Monday, October 26, 2009

The Bottle Rockets - Part 1- Live at Mojo's 23-Oct-2009

The Bottle rockets are: , Mark Ortmann- Drums and percussion, Brian Henneman-Guitar and Vocals, Keith Voegele- Bass and Vocals, and John Horton- Guitar

After dinner out for our anniversary, my wife and I went to see the Bottle Rockets on October 23, 2009, our 10th anniversary, at Mojo’s in Columbia, Missouri.

We arrive and talk with Keith, the bassist, for a few minutes. Then we meet up with Kirbie, a fellow bottle rocket's message boarder, and his friend and have a nice conversation. The opener ends up being a local band called Jaktar. I liked the music but every other song ended up sounding pretty similar. It was pretty loud for acoustic instruments as well. The main singer and guitarist has a pretty good voice for that old timey music. And the mando/singer did a pretty good job as well. I was impressed that a group of guys could get together and play some cool music you don't normally hear and make it work. I would like to see them mix up the show a bit, but I'm probably being picky at this point.

Eventually the band shows up and starts playing. There was a pretty rocking attitude going on. The room is fairly full but not packed at all. There was plenty of elbow room and it was nice not being sweated upon by people. The band has sold out Mojo’s the past few times they’ve played so this was a change of pace for them. The first several songs hit pretty hard and then came the song 'Happy Anniversary.' Brian announced that it was our anniversary and I gave Phoebe an anniversary ring. It wasn't the exact one she picked out, but I planned ahead and gave it to her in the dark recesses of a rock show... kept the possibility for disappointment to a minimum. Apparently she likes it so it worked out okay. Brian mentioned that the message of the song doesn't really fit, but we both really like that song so it works for us. After 10 years of marriage and over 14 years together I think we can handle the bad *ahem* mojo that might come from the message in that song.

After I get a nice anniversary kiss we pay attention to the show and this was one of those nights I could just close my eyes and get lost in the music. I really enjoyed it and probably couldn't tell you a hand full of songs from memory but it was awesome. One of those totally in the moment shows for me. I did take time to notice that I look at fret-boards quite a bit. Brian's trashpicker , John's flying V when he is facing our direction and Keith's bass quite a bit. I guess I'm trying to figure stuff out. I don't know. Watching Mark drum is really cool as well. He hits lots of little fills and bits and makes it all look effortless. It sounds like he's a permanent resident of "the groove." He’s just always right on top of things. On several songs the ending was drawn out a bit more than usual, which was cool as I noticed a little bit of the interaction in the band. It was easy to tell the band had fun on stage.

The band played several songs from their new album, LEAN FORWARD. ‘Shame On Me,’ a song in which the singer is taking responsibility for his mistakes even as he admits he’ll do them again. ‘Solitaire’ a song about the loneliness of a failing relationship. ‘Hard Times, ‘ a song appropriate to the rough economic times but with a light at the end of the tunnel look at the future. And ‘The Long Way’ which seems to sum up the journey the band has undertaken. Around for over sixteen years, the band has had shots of the big time but always seems to be stuck right in the middle. This is a song about perseverance and the optimism that comes with a new album and a new enthusiasm for making music. This band does it for the love of music and it shows in how they play.

After a brief break the band hit the stage for the encore and after a few strums from Brian they launched into "American Girl." Apparently this is the first time the band has played that particular song but it sounded well rehearsed. I have to give major credit to John for hitting all of those cool parts that just MAKE that song guitar-wise. Seriously good interplay with band.

The nice gal next to us waved herself a rebel flag with the word "redneck" across the front and the band launched into 'Wave that Flag' just for her. I found it quite ironic myself, but it was great to hear the song live again. In case you aren't familiar with the song 'Wave That Flag' it is pretty much and indictment of the mindless use of that symbol which is now associated with slavery. We could go on and on about the real meaning of the flag and if/how/when it changed, but this song gets to the heart of the matter from the view point that many Americans hold. It's summed up nicely in the line, "If somebody owned your ass, how would you feel?"

Afterward we got our picture taken with the band and with Janet, Brian's wife. We spoke a few minutes with the band and it got cold so we vamoosed so the band could leave for their lengthy drive to their hotel. It being homecoming here in Mizzou country (GO TIGERS), I'm sure they had quite a ways to go for lodging.

I would write more about the show itself, about the great interplay of guitars wielded by John Horton and Brian Henneman. How Keith Voegele and Mark Ortmann lock into a groove on every single song and build a foundation that lets the songs climb to new heights. I could even write about some tender moments such as during 'Smoking 100's Alone' and 'Welfare Music.' But the only way to truly "get" the Bottle Rockets is to go see them live. This band shows up. Do yourself a favor and support the nicest guys in the music business and go see a show.

No comments:

Post a Comment