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Old 97s at Rock Around The Block

By Julene McCoy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 19, 2005 7:32PM

Covered in dust from Intonation Fest, Chicagoist headed over to Rock Around The Block to see the band we're most likely to stalk - the Old 97s.

Rhett Miller
They started off the set with "Melt Show" a perfect song that captures the summer street fair vibe with lyrics relating fleeting summer love and general drunkenness. The Old 97s played homage to some of country's greats, Hank Williams and Merle Haggard, with the songs "Won't Be Home" and "Mama Tried", respectfully. Rhett mentioned that they played "Mama Tried" at their very first Chicago show and that no one gave a shit it was a cover because they were that good. Ahh, humility. They also showed their Chicago ties during their earlier Bloodshot Records days in "Barrier Reef", a song that is set at the Empty Bottle.

The Old 97s always play an energetic set that encompasses their entire discography from Hitchhike to Rhome through Drag It Up. Some of the poppier songs played Sunday evening were "Indefinitely" and "Roller Skate Skinny" and the more love songy (or lost love, for that matter) were "Salome" and "Big Brown Eyes". The group clearly loves performing as is apparent when Rhett's inner dork comes out and he can't help but shaking his hips and dancing around. Murry Hammond's lovely backing vocals (and occasional lead vocals) add twang to the songs keeping them firmly ensconced in the genre that most love to hate.

The upbeat show ended with "Timebomb" forcing us all to go look for whiskey to drown our sorrow that our favorite, "Buick City Complex" was once again not played. Sigh... there's always next time.