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Review Sun Sep 25 2011

Review: The Bottle Rockets, Marshall Crenshaw @ Old Town School of Folk Music

I happened to run into Bottle Rockets drummer Mark Ortmann in the lobby of the Old Town School of Folk Music as they waited to go on for an encore with Marshall Crenshaw at the earlier of their two shows Friday night. Exchanging a pleasantry, I complimented him on the show, and he smiled and thanked me, commenting that "This tour is so much fun." I was glad to hear it, but I don't think I needed the confirmation, as the performances of both The Bottle Rockets and Marshall Crenshaw were consistent with good artists having a good time plying their trade.

Temporarily reduced to a three-piece as guitarist John Horton attended to a newborn at home, the remaining Bottle Rockets, guitarist and vocalist Brian Henneman, drummer Ortmann and bass player Kieth Voegele opened the show with an acoustic set that included many of their classics such as "1000 Dollar Car" and "Kit Kat Clock". The acoustic versions hew closer to the songs' origins, and brought into sharp relief the quality of the band's songwriting, exploring various aspects of Joe Six-Pack existence. Even with stripped down instrumentation and a shorthanded band, songs packed emotional depth while managing to remain light, often weaving dark themes with levity as in "Lucky Break", about spending time on workman's comp.

Finishing their set and coming back in rock band mode, The Bottle Rockets returned to support Marshall Crenshaw as he led the attentive audience through a retrospective of his thirty year career. Crenshaw dipped into his vast repertoire, playing a variety of songs from all stages of his career, as well as some choice covers including Richard Thompson's "Valerie", and Buddy Holly's "Cryin', Waitin', Hopin'" and "Rave On". Wielding a disconcertingly shiny candy-apple red Strat, Crenshaw played songs written with writing partners stretching from his teen years to more contemporary collaborations with artists such as Dan Bern.

In fact, if there was anything wrong with the show, it was somewhat mirrored in the pristine finish of Crenshaw's guitar. Under the plain white lighting of the Old Town's stage, and in front of an attentive but subdued audience, the performance occasionally felt a little too sterile, at times seeming more like a workshop on what a show should look like than a living, breathing show. Though the room itself seemed a little flat at times, it's ultimately hard to argue with the success of the night's lineup. A stage full of tested musicians having a good time is never a bad thing.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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