By Andy DelGiudice
“Let’s drink whiskey and do it all night long.”
Sure, yes! Why not, right? These are some good old timey lyrics I can get behind, delivered by the Old 97’s to a full house of seemingly rabid fans at The Hamilton Live. The Old 97’s are touring in support of their new album Most Messed Up, a rollicking riff laden retrospective of their 20+ yearlong journey as a band on the fringes of the alternative soundscape. I was introduced last night to a snapshot of their hard earned and loyal fan base. It’s always great to be welcomed into a family of supporters that have been earned by a band that did it right; endlessly touring and cranking out music that is complementary to their sound yet still diverse in influences and background. Said fan base appears to already be priming the next generation of Old 97ers, as I have never seen so many little kids at a show in all my life. They were amped on what seemed like a bottomless supply of cookies and brownies so they were pretty much ready to tear up the stage once showtime hit. Their parents were jacked up too, along with everyone else that was in attendance looking to get hammered and get it on.
Vandaveer, a trio turned quartet opened the night with a more chill vibe but were a great bill for the show by employing a more traditional approach to a number of the music styles, genres and arrangements that would be hit much harder later on in the night by headliner Old 97’s. Based in D.C., Vandaveer’s soft spoken folk represents the sort of melting pot of collaboration offered by the transient nature of the District and its residents. The steel guitar, slide, banjo, stomping and angelic vocals throughout their songs hark to backyards farther south and a bit west, but were so well crafted that they seemed right even in the glitz and glamor of The Hamilton stage.
But if Vandaveer is like a melodic hand saw, Old 97’s is a bludgeoning chain saw that mashes a riff heavy folk into a punky stage presence and the two bands will be lining up at The Hamilton Stage again on New Years Eve.