Old 97’s @ the 20th Century Theatre (1/30/12)

Part I: Where I discuss death and the rate at which news travels.
So I was driving through Oakley last night when I noticed that the Old 97’s were on the 20th Century Theatre marquee.  They had a concert scheduled there for the 30th…the very next night…tonight!  The first thing I thought was, “Shit, I really need to do a better job of keeping up on things.”  I’d been feeling that way since the day before when I’d found out that one of my favorite musicians, Jackie Leven, had died 75 days before.  How in the world is it possible that it took me 75 days to find that out?!  That’s how long it took to hear the news back in the pioneer days when they had to rely on a pony running from San Francisco all the way to Boston with a bag of mail in its mouth.  I have 21 Jackie Leven albums and it took me 75 days!  Grrrr.

(this concert never happened)

Part II: Where I reveal what the second thing was and make a list.
The second thing I thought when I saw the marquee was, “Hey, maybe I should go to that thing.”  Then I began my internal debate which I’m now going to turn into an external debate because this post could really use a bulleted list.

Reasons to go see the Old 97’s:

  • There’s nothing else to do in Cincinnati on a Monday night.
  • The venue is within walking distance of my house.
  • It would give me a post topic other than how Squirrel likes apples.
  • I could see up close if Rhett Miller has finally begun to age.  I swear that guy used to be 10 years older than me, but now it looks like I’m 10 years older than him.  I don’t understand it.  I suspect he will eventually go all Dorian Gray and turn into a withered shell of a man who can no longer shake his sweet, sweet rump.  I’d really like to see the effects of normal aging suddenly catch up with Rhett Miller…especially if it happened on stage during a show.  They’d have to switch the spotlight over to Murry for the first time ever.
  • I like the band.

Reasons to not go see the Old 97’s:

  • Tickets are $25.
  • I’ve already seen them 7 or 8 times.
  • I’m not a fan of the venue’s sound system.
  • Seeing a concert would keep me from reading the second Incorrigible Children book.

So there.  That’s what went on in my head.  I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do tonight.

Part III: I also haven’t decided if there will be a Part III yet.

Part IV: Where I reveal that there was a Part III, but that it wasn’t anything more than some questions marks.  Where I also reveal my decision and talk a bit about printing fake tickets.
Did you see Part III?  I left some question marks there as a placeholder.  Well, I decided to leave them there and just continue on with Part IV.  That’s what you’re reading right now.  I’m going to keep adding parts to this post as more stuff happens.  I enjoy doing that sort of thing.

Oh, I also decided to go see the concert.  I stopped by the box office and bought a ticket.  It looks like this:

(old 97’s ticket)

That’s not really my ticket, though. That’s a digitally altered version of it.  I changed some numbers around and removed the barcode so nobody would be able to print it out, add a fake hologram, and sneak into the show at my expense.  This would probably never happen, but I sometimes get the feeling that the people at the 20th Century Theatre don’t really know what they’re doing when it comes to running a music venue; I wouldn’t be surprised if they let somebody sneak in on a bootleg ticket.  There are some pretty fancy printers out there these days.

Part V: Where I show you what the marquee looks like.
One of my favorite things about the 20th Century Theatre is their marquee and sign tower from the 1940s.  I always take a couple pictures whenever I see a show there.  My sign tower shot didn’t turn out well, so I’ll try for another tonight after the concert.  It looks a lot cooler all lit up at night anyway.  I got a good one of the marquee, though.  Here it is:

(I wonder who the O’s are.)

Part VI: Where I reveal a fun fact.
The last time I saw the Old 97’s was at the Southgate House on 10/12/08.  I heard a mysterious ba-ba song playing over the sound system in between the opening act and the headliner’s set.  The song got stuck in my head and I became obsessed with learning its title and the artist’s name.  I began to search around for it when I got home.  And that’s the story of how my list of ba-ba songs came into being.

Part VII: Where I reveal a second fun fact.
The first time I ever saw the Old 97’s in concert was on 7/2/99.  They played at Top Cat’s with a band called Slobberbone.  I skipped a cousin’s wedding so I could go to that show.  It turned out to be a good decision on my part; she got divorced a couple years later.

Part VIII: Where I share the setlist for Rhett Miller’s solo acoustic opening set.

Opening set: The El/Singular Girl/I Need to Know Where I Stand/American Girl (Tom Petty cover)/World Inside the World/Fireflies (duet with himself!)/19/Our Love

Part IX: Where I share the picture of the old sign tower I mentioned earlier.
I went outside during “Smokers” and took the following picture.

(marquee & sign tower)

Part X: Where I share the setlist for the main set by the Old 97’s.

Main set: 504/Brown Haired Daughter/Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)/Niteclub/W. TX Teardrops/Indefinitely/No Simple Machine/Murder (Or a Heart Attack)/White Port/Please Hold on While the Train Is Moving/Busted Afternoon/House That Used to Be/The New Kid/Perfume/Smokers/Barrier Reef/Won’t Be Home/Four Leaf Clover

Encore: Valentine/The Fool/Victoria/Timebomb

Part XI: Where I share the one and only photograph I took inside the venue.
I like to bring my camera to concerts, but I rarely take pictures of the performers anymore.  I prefer to take pictures of the ceilings.

(red ceiling w/stars)

That picture isn’t as bad as it looks at first glance. It’s showing up with a bunch of fat, blurry pixels around the light strands. If you double-click on it, you can see a less blurry version. WP and pictures aren’t mixing very well these days.

Part XII: Where I finally get around to talking a bit about the performance.
Rhett Miller’s solo acoustic opening set was impressive and hearing it was worth at least half of the concert’s admission price.  He opened the evening with my all-time favorite of his solo songs and then went right into what is probably my second favorite.  There was a decent Tom Petty cover and Rhett even played “19” off Fight Songs.  That song used to be my theme song (when I was 25) and I’m still fond of it.  Acoustic instruments have always sounded good at the 20th Century Theatre and Rhett’s set came off crisp, clean, and clear.

Unfortunately, the traditional 20th Century Theatre sound problems struck as soon as the Old 97’s came out and started rocking.  It sounded like they were playing on the other side of an aquarium with towels wrapped around their microphones and speakers.  Thump, thump, thump, muffle, muffle, thump.  I wandered all around the venue and never did find a place where things sounded good.

I’m not sure what happened, but the sound started to improve when they played “Busted Afternoon” (eleven songs in).  By the time they got to “Barrier Reef” a few songs later, they were sounding as good as ever.  I’ve got to give credit to the band’s sound guy; he eventually managed to figure out the mysteries of the 20th Century Theatre’s wonky sound system.  I’m glad things were able to end on a positive note.  I would’ve left grumpy otherwise.

I’m also glad they didn’t play “Question”, “Dance With Me”, or “Bloomington”.

Part XIII: Where I wrap this up and move on.
I went to Everybody’s Records today and bought The Grand Theatre: Volume One and Rhett Miller’s new live covers album, The Interpreter: Live at Largo. And that right there is all I have to say about the Old 97’s or Rhett Miller or the 20th Century Theatre.  I’m glad I went to the concert and I look forward to listening to my new CDs.

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26 Responses to Old 97’s @ the 20th Century Theatre (1/30/12)

  1. homebody says:

    This seems like something you should do on principle. The Incorrigible Children, Bret, and Jemaine will be there tomorrow.

  2. hotrod says:

    Last time they were in town, I bailed on the show. I had tickets, but instead stayed home to play Tetris. It would have been the fourth time seeing them within a year – including a spectacularly awful show to celebrate my birthday. But I could have just been in a bad mood from celebrating my birthday.

  3. crankypants says:

    Rhett Miller…shake his sweet, sweet rump (I forget if I need to use brackets or the greater than less than signs, so if that didn’t go into italics that’s why.) (you can fix it if you want and delete this nonsense)
    there’s your reason right there.
    I haven’t been to a concert since MAY when I saw Spottiswoode and his Enemies (and Meryl Streep’s son opened!!). It was a good concert but a bad crowd experience and I feel like I have burnt out on going out alone in Philly at my age. Not to mention that there is no one I have to see. Joseph Arthur hasn’t been here in a while, Darren Hanlon is in Australia doing his Sydney Times crosswords, Nick Cave is doing Nick Cave things not in Philly….Chris Whitley is still dead, goddammit. I think I may as well go set up that yurt out in the middle of nowhere. I won’t miss anything.

    • homebody says:

      I’ve pretty much retired from seeing shows that end after 10 pm and that don’t have seating, which means I don’t even go see shows within walking distance of my home anymore.

      Hey! I found a yurt in the Loire Valley when researching accommodations in France: http://www.la-pinsonniere.fr/yourte-anjou.html (warning: this site has an annoying sound)

    • M-----l says:

      Seeing Rhett Miller shake his rump is probably less appealing to me than it would be to you, but I will still put that in the positive column as I always get a kick out of seeing him do his little dance.

      I haven’t been going to many shows recently either. I think I’ve been to two since summer. My favorite venue shut down and nobody seems to hit Cincinnati anymore. Everybody goes to Columbus.

      I heard that Nick Cave was putting on a show downtown a couple weeks ago, but it turned out that it was just the Fake Nick Cave artist who makes junk out of cloth. Or clothing out of junk. Or whatever.

  4. Never heard of Jackie Leven before but maybe I’ve heard his songs…sometimes I listen to a song and have no idea who the singer is. Can you recommend a couple of his songs that you liked? I’m going to look for them on youtube later.

    P.S. I really like the Squirrel posts but I guess that’s obvious by now.

    • M-----l says:

      My favorite Jackie Leven song is probably “Empty in Soho Square”. There’s a line near the end that gives me chills every time I hear it. There’s a video of the song from German television with an interview introduction. Jackie talks about almost getting murdered in the 80s and then sings the song. The video version has some unfortunate keyboards, but I still like it.

  5. homebody says:

    I totally can’t wait for Part XI!

  6. And is there going to be a part III?

  7. stevebetz says:


    I first saw Old’s 97 play as the opening (and accompanying) band for Lucinda Williams a few years ago here in San Diego. Very fun concert and have been a fan ever since.

    • M-----l says:

      I’ve seen Lucinda Williams and I’ve (obviously) seen Old 97’s, but I’ve never seen them on the same stage together. I imagine the band would have to slow things down a bit.

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