Show Review: Bottle Rockets at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, Saturday, October 10
As promised on Friday, the Bottle Rockets made a new setlist for the last night of their stint at the Duck room, The band started with "Gas Girl" from its self-titled debut album, which kicked off a stretch of eight classics. Despite some monitor problems, guitarist John Horton gave a thumbs up to the sound booth at the beginning of "Middle Man," when the sound from his Fender Flying V shimmied and sparkled.
After an extended jam at the end of "Perfect Far Away," lead singer and guitarist Brian Henneman commented that, in sorting through the band's catalog to make the setlists, he realized they could play a six-hour show. He speculated that most people probably wouldn't hang around until four a.m. (The crowd disagreed.) He introduced another first-album deep cut, "Hey Moon," as being "freshly rehearsed, straight out of the oven." Any rust the tune might have accumulated over sixteen years had been scraped away, along with much of the original's counry twang.
Next was a six-song block from the Bottle Rockets' latest album, Lean Forward. The band hauled out "Nothing but a Driver" -- so bombastic it rattled the tables -- but otherwise stuck to the same songs it played Friday. With the energy rising, Henneman told about playing a bar in Buffalo one-quarter the size of the Duck Room with just as many people. They needed a huge amp to "blast the music right into the peoples' legs." A friend loaned him the amp with the caveat that the band play "Headed for the Ditch." If the Bottle Rockets played the song in Buffalo the way it unfolded last night, femurs must have shattered. They played it huge - the kind of huge that makes you feel like vital organs might be failing.
The band concluded the show with the same five songs as Friday's show, all Bottle Rockets must-haves. Henneman encouraged audiance participation during "I'll be Coming Around": "If you don't pump your fists in the air now, when will you ever do it?" With the same energy and joy evident on Friday, the band finished with "Thousand Dollar Car," "Indianapolis," "Welfare Music," and "The Long Way," the audience by this time a roiling ball of kinetic energy.
Henneman started the single encore at a loss, asking the audience what they'd like to hear. "Nancy Sinatra" won, followed by a densely layered take on "Things You Didn't Know." For the fourth time in the show, the band returned to its debut album with "Wave That Flag." The band ended with a drawn-out rendition of "Love Like a Truck," dedicated to the all the women in the audience. "This might be a first for the Bottle Rockets," Henneman said. "We've got three women front row, center." They jammed without easing until the midnight curfew to a crowd that gladly would have danced and sang for another four hours.