Old 97's Didn't Spare Any Effort for Twilite Lounge's Birthday on Saturday

Twilite's Second Anniversary Party
With Old 97’s and Brent Best
Twilite Lounge, Dallas
Saturday, July 4, 2015

To celebrate two years of existence, Twilite Lounge threw a free party on Saturday. By the end of the night, people were already talking about how this was one of the most memorable shows the place has put on. If you were lucky enough to get in, you have some bragging rights for years to come.

Twilite was hosting three straight night of free music over the weekend, but Saturday was the undoubted highlight, with local favorites and Twilite regulars the Old 97's topping the bill. Joining them was Brent Best, who got the music started on the back patio after the fireworks went off in nearby Fair Park, shortly before 10:30. With a beard as long as his shoulder-length hair, Best kept things light and funny between his eight songs. From announcing, “I’m gonna play a bunch of sad songs, so let’s party!” to doing a mock intro to Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion” as he played with guitar feedback, he knew how to work the crowd. Armed with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, he played a lot of solo material, including “Queen Bee,” but ended with two Slobberbone songs (including Stephen King’s favorite, “Gimme Back My Dog”) with the Old 97’s backing him up.
The headliners duly came on not too much later and proceeded to slay the place with 25 songs in a little under two hours. Opening with “Won’t Be Home” from Drag It Up, the four-piece played material from almost every album in their storied career. Since the band has never had a massive hit or a handful of favorites that have to be played at every show, the band can really do what they want and have it translate to the audience. There were plenty of tunes from last year’s Most Messed Up, along with a mix of tunes from The Grand Theatre, Hitchhike to Rhome and Too Far to Care.

Since they were playing a place that's 10 times smaller than where they normally play around here, the band could have taken the easy route by playing a half-assed set and not cared. Not so, thankfully. They had a little spontaneity with how each song ended, but for the most part they played like they were in a large hall or theater. Drummer Philip Peeples struck the right balance of playing for the song and cutting loose, lead guitarist Ken Bethea channeled a slew of great rockabilly and country guitarists before him and bassist Murry Hammond did his trademark plucking mixed with falsetto backing vocals. Frontman Rhett Miller continues to have the swagger that has attracted fans to the band over the years. He was not afraid to smile and sing until his voice went hoarse, and he frequently strummed his guitar with his arm doing counter-clockwise spins.
There was not much banter between songs, but they did share some funny bits about their career. From talking about their last day of Lollapalooza where they played a lot of Buck Owens covers to help offset all the Korn and Tool songs heard throughout the day to playing in Deep Ellum bars that closed a long time ago, they were enjoyable little one-offs. Hammond told the best story, remembering the first time he ventured to Deep Ellum: Lying to his parents about seeing a movie in Fort Worth, he went instead to a Dead Kennedy’s show and didn’t get home until it was almost dawn the next morning.

For the finale of “Timebomb,” the band welcomed as many people as possible to come up onstage and join them. With zero room to move, the band somehow got through the song without incident.

Much respect is due to Twilite for hosting probably the biggest crowd they’ve ever had. The place was full, but it wasn’t painfully packed. You could still grab a drink and come back to a good view of the stage. The people that were there saw something that doesn’t often happen, and it worked out to be just the memorable party that was hoped for.
Personal bias: Despite living in the DFW area for all of my adult life, this was only the fourth time for me to see Old 97’s. I was really impressed with their set at the Bomb Factory a few months ago, and I was happy to see the same kind of energy be replicated at Twilite.

Set list:
“Won’t Be Home”
“Give It Time”
“W. Texas Teardrops”
“Longer Than You’ve Been Alive”
“Desperate Times”
“Rollerskate Skinny”
“White Port”
“I’m a Trainwreck”
“Four Leaf Clover”
“Love’s Gonna Live Here”
“The Other Shoe”
“Champaign, Illinois”
“Barrier Reef”
“Can’t Get a Line”
“Every Night is Friday Night (Without You)”
“Let’s Get Drunk & Get It On”
“Big Brown Eyes”
“Most Messed Up”

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Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs