Last Thursday night the Bottle Rockets rolled into the DC area on tour for their brand new release on Bloodshot Records, Bit Logic. [For our review of the album click one of these bolded words here.] They took the stage at the still fairly new venue in Georgetown, Gypsy Sally’s. Gypsy Sally’s offers everything you could want in your night of music: there are tables for when you need to get off your feet during your listening experience and a dance floor for standing and absorbing a closer-up experience. There’s wait service but there’s also a walk-up bar. And every spot in the place sounds phenomenal.
The Bottle Rockets tuned up to an eager crowd who was already pushing the stage when the band walked on. Frontman Brian Henneman, by any standard, has a powerful gift of oration; he would undoubtedly be a very effective political leader or teacher — or perhaps a preacher. Not that you’d want to, but you couldn’t talk through a Bottle Rockets set because Henneman knows exactly how to command your attention in between songs with subtlety and intrigue and exactly the right intonation. As it happens, he keeps it light and humorous, but if he ever wanted to direct that ability toward something deeper, well, he could have his own cult or tribal following. And in a way, judging by his fans’ devotion, he already does.
The band is tight and the guitar playing is superb and fans crowd close to the stage all night. Henneman played a new tele on this tour, which, he reported back in September, is “the new boss.” John Horton’s leads are glorious earworms, and their rhythmnists — Mark Ortmann and Keith Voegle — lay down mighty contagious grooves. The dance floor was rolling all night long as the band played through their new album and then some.
The new album Bit Logic was produced by Eric “Roscoe” Ambel, who was present in the audience during the show. He was on lead guitar with the opening act, Sarah Borges, who was touring as support for the Bottle Rockets and had released an album, Love’s Middle Name (Blue Corn Records), on the same day Bit Logic was released — also produced by Ambel. [For our separate review of their part of the show click one of these bolded words right here.]
The Bottle Rockets played a 22 song set followed by 2 encores; this included the new album in its entirety plus some of their classics like “Radar Gun,” “Wave that Flag,” and “1000 Dollar Car” from Bottle Rockets and the Brooklyn Side, and “Love Like a Truck.” They also played “Monday (Every Time I Turn Around)” and the whimsical “Dog” from South Broadway Athletic Club. The band never missed an opportunity to rock like the outlaw country band of our expectations. It was a long night of lingering after the show, even though the Bottle Rockets had said they needed to be in Philadelphia for World Cafe Live show the next morning — at 10am — 3 hours north. Nobody was eager to let them go, and you could see on their faces people were already counting down to the next time.
If you haven’t purchased the album, do yourself a favor and hit it while you check for tour dates right here: http://www.bottlerocketsmusic.com/