Old Crow Medicine Show, Justin Townes Earle
May 6, 2009
Better than: Drinkin' your corn liquor and lettin' cocaine be.
From the time the crowd started arriving at the Granada it was apparent that Old Crow Medicine Show was the place to be: If it wasn't apparent by the crowd in the smoking area, then the line around the side of the building and going into the back parking lot was the sure sign.
On a muggy Texas Spring night, the venue had the A/C cranked up (or down depending on how you say it) to a very chilly temperature in what seemed like a move to make the crowd as comfortable as possible.
But once the boys from Ithaca, New York, took over the stage, the crowd took every bit of chill out of the air. And with a full room left over from the opener Justin Townes Earle, the room quickly became as hot as the performance it saw from an amped-up Old Crow Medicine Show.
From the time the band started the show, fiddler Ketch Secor was in fine form, shredding his bow and leaving rosin dust flying all over the place while guitar player Willie Watson preened and moved around the stage like a hillbilly Mick Jagger.
Even if the band was performing a subpar show, you couldn't tell it by the reaction of the crowd With the way Ketch worked the audience, he could've told them he wanted them to jump off a bridge and they (possibly) would've done it. With hundreds of yearly shows under the group's belt, the lead Crow knows how to work a room.
Yeah, it would be very easy to say Ketch Secor was pandering to the crowd. How could you not? Almost everything out of his mouth was something meant to get a positive reaction from the crowd. Throughout the show, he constantly baited the show with references of towns in and around the Metroplex that were greeted by a roars from the crowd.
But, honestly? It seemed like he had honed his craft and wasn't necessarily pandering.
Either way the energy coming from the band and crowd had as much to do with the fervor the band played with, as it did with the song selection. Quite a few times during the night, the crowd was easily heard over the Granada's massive PA system.
Still, the crowd's energy couldn't last all night; after an the intermission the band slowly rebuilt the crowd into the frenzy that defined the first half of their show.
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While the crowd was equally interested in hearing newer material, its reaction was evidence enough that this audience was there to hear song from the band's O.C.M.S. album. With the triple-threat "Wagon Wheel," "Tell It To Me" and "CC Rider," the band led the crowd in a good old-fashioned tent revival sing-along.
And as the band closed out the show, it was nice to hear them again working the crowd, as the band introduced its members under false name--names that referenced by-gone stars of Texas Rangers baseball history.
Personal Bias: As a fan of the band, I thought they put on a great performance. The band put on a show--it didn't seem like it was playing to make a paycheck. For all I know, the members could've been but, from where I was standing, it definitely didn't seem like it.
By The Way: Justin Townes Earle shouldn't have to feel forced to live up to his father's name for long. The man also knows how to work a crowd. Throughout his set, he told stories about songs and spoke to the crowd in a manner that recalled what one might imagine old-time country stars would've done. Also, from the floor, he looked seven foot tall. When I spoke to him after his set, though, he seemed less imposing.