|This guy is a believer in mythologies.|
Dallas' favorite musical son, Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller, played an acoustic set by the pool at the Hotel Belmont for their summer concert series, "Barefoot at the Belmont." Of course, the whole thing was a sham, because he was wearing shoes the whole time, the scoundrel.
Recently a reader commented (not electronically, but to our faces, in person) that reading 2x40x80 was a bit different than reading the usual music reviews because we seem to know many of the musicians personally, so we're always writing about how nice they are, or what they said after the show, etc. So we don't come off as professionally removed from the shows, but that's fine. We're not, after all, professionals, and we don't want to seem something we're not. This is how we experience what we see, and we don't want to pretend otherwise.
So all that said, how do we write about a Rhett Miller show when we've known Rhett for twenty-plus years, grown up with him, hung out at his parents' house, seen him and his band play literally hundreds of times? We're simply not going to hear the music the same way a casual, or even a dedicated, fan does.
And so, yeah, Rhett's music is pretty great, and we both think that the Old 97's are, no exaggeration, one of the best bands playing music today, and we're not in the habit of flattering anyone. But let's face it, at this point, we're not listening to the music when we see Rhett play. We're there to have a good time with our friends, people who have also known Rhett for years and years.
So all that said, the show.
Rhett followed Salim Nourallah, whose set we did not see, unfortunately, but we were too busy hanging out in the hotel taking advantage of free food and drink. Look, we're only human, damn it. But Rhett had a lot of good things to say about Salim, and noting that many of the songs he played that night were in fact recorded by the super-producer himself.
|To left: the famous Dallas|
skyline. To right: drunks.
As always, Rhett was witty and pleasant on stage, telling stories and cracking self-deprecating jokes. He looked back at the Dallas skyline lit behind him and compared it unfavorably to the "Austin City Limits" fake backdrop. "This is the real thing!" he asserted, to the cheers of the regionally patriotic. (Rhett's also always a little bit ingratiating when it comes to talking about Dallas to Dallas audiences.)
He also told two stories about meeting Ken Bethea, the Old 97's guitarist --- "a guy who really had it together, because he had a car, but we thought he was a weirdo because he played accordion." He said that he and Murray knew they were going to like him, however, when he pronounced guitar as "gee-tar." He noted that Ken "Is no Stevie Ray, but he shreds in his own way," a nice backhanded compliment. He finished up his second story --- which he stopped "St. Ignatius" to tell --- by proclaiming to the audience, "I love weirdos, that's why I like you guys so much." (See what we mean about the ingratiating thing?)
A particularly exuberant fan kept getting up next to Rhett and dancing, and at one point he let her sing a few lines of "Doreen," except she sang "Darlene." She was quite drunk.
Rhett finished up the set with a cover of Jimmie Dale Gilmore's "Dallas," then "Every Night is Friday Night" and a necessarily subdued "Timebomb."
Then we hung out with Rhett, his wife, and some other dudes in his hotel suite. Sorry, but as we explained at the beginning of this post, that's how we roll.