A fun, lightly publicized show tonight at the Chicago History Museum. We'd never been before, so I suppose the show served its purpose. Escaping the opening set by Dave (wanna be Matthews) Tamkin, we wandered around a bit and found it pretty interesting - lots of stuff on the World's Fairs, Sports Teams, The El Trains. We didn't get around to the Chicago Fire or Al Capone, and I am remiss that I didn't find the special exhibit on Chicago music, which apparently features Bloodshot Records.
It was a nice setup. Your $15 (advance) ticket got you into the museum and the concert, as well as a free cocktail. The exhibits weren't crowded at all, which was very nice, and the room where the music was was full, but not packed in.
It's probably not fair to liken opener Dave Tamakin to Dave Matthews just because he plays acoustic guitar and his band prominently features a violinist, whose style sounds much like that of the violin player in DMB. But the music was that same slightly jammy, fairly bland acoustic based pop/rock/shlock. Next to nothing stood out. They did a cover of Baba O'Riley and he really sounded more like he was picking wildflowers out in those fields rather than fighting for his meals. Just because your band can pull off a song technically, doesn't mean you should do it.
Rhett on the other hand was a one man ball of fire. He came on right around 7:30 and didn't let up until the 9pm "curfew" required that he take his final bow. While we caught him last year on his solo band tour (is that an oxymoron? I just mean he had a band backing him that was not the Old 97's), which was great, but I really enjoyed seeing him solo acoustic for the first time. He was clearly happy to be there and having a great time. Because Rhett's songs are based around strong melody and wordplay they hold up just as well on an acoustic guitar as they do with a band, and are aided even more by the vigor Rhett puts into his performance.
My attempt at a set list (in no order) -
Big Brown Eyes
This Is What I Do
Help Me Suzanne
Fireflies (Rhett singing both parts)
Buick City Complex
World Inside the World
Four Eyed Girl
Four Leaf Clover
The One (he said this was an Old 97's song that never got recorded)
Designs on You
A great set list, and as I recall very similar to the solo band show last year. My only disappointment was nothing from "Fight Songs". But otherwise he hit all my other "must hears".
In one final note, I continue to be a "dumb ass" magnet at concerts. We got stuck standing right next to this lady that 1) kept hitting me with her large purse 2) would "whoop" after almost every line in many songs and 3) sang along very loudly and out of tune. We finally moved back. There was quite a bit of chatter towards the back where we ended up, but it certainly was easier to tune out than someone trying to compete with Rhett. Lets leave the singing to the professionals folks.