Last night I went down to Athens to see Over the Rhine perform at a place called the Melting Point. After my Ryan Adams experience a month ago, I have to say that my concert standards were not very high. Fortunately, Over the Rhine put on one hell of show. Certainly the best concert I've seen this year, and probably in my top five of all time.
I think that part of the key to the success of the concert was the mediocre opening act who preceded them. The guy wasn't terrible (I don't even remember his name), but by the time he was wrapping up, I was more than ready for him to get off stage (and I'm not convinced that this wasn't an intentional strategy on behalf of the band). Anyways, OtR finally came out and opened with "I Don't Wanna Waste Your Time," the lead track from their latest studio album, The Trumpet Child. This may be one of my favorite OtR songs (the trumpet piece at the beginning of the song on the album is outstanding) and was really a great way to start the show. They ended up playing a lot of songs from Trumpet Child, but actually did a great job of mixing in a lot of older songs. They've been around since the early 90s, so they have quite a good bit of material to choose from. I was also really impressed with the way they balanced performing the original arrangements of some songs while doing extended jams on other songs. This included a 2-3 minute drum solo on the song "Who'm I Kiddin' But Me" that was pretty unreal.
A live performance of "I Don't Wanna Waste Your Time" (not from last night's concert)
Most of the OtR music that I own is from some of their older albums (like Ohio), but I have been listening to Trumpet Child online a good bit lately (you can do the same here). Trumpet Child has a decidedly more jazzy and playful tone to it than some of their older stuff, and while I liked it, I wasn't quite sure about their move in that direction. However, after hearing them live, the newer songs really seemed to come into their own and were excellent. Also, Karin's voice is really on a different level in a live setting and is frankly, incredible. She and Linford also provided some nice banter in between songs.
Anyways, as I stated before, this concert really was excellent, and if OtR is going to be playing anywhere near you, I would highly recommend you going. As an added highlight to the evening, Katy Bowser was working the merchandise table and I got to speak with her after the concert. She has been very involved with the Indelible Grace movement and sings on most of, if not all, of the Indelible Grace CDs.
As a bit of a side note, after the concert my friend and I went to downtown Athens to visit a friend of mine who is a bartender at this place called Bourbon Street. She was supposed to be working that night, so I figured I would stop by and say hello. Well, the bar was packed and it took us about 5 minutes to get up to the bar where I found out that my friend wasn't working that night. So, we turned around and started to head out and when I was about 10 feet from the door, squeezing my way through the crowd, I felt/heard what I thought was someone drop a beer next to my left foot. I looked down and saw a white puddle, which I assumed was foam from a beer, and turned around to look at the girl behind me. She was pretty hot, wearing a black cocktail dress and had something on her face. About that time, she said aloud, to no one in particular as far as I could gather, "Oh, I just puked on myself." No, that puddle next to my foot was not beer. Seeing as how I haven't thrown up since 1993 and how I have learned in that time to steer clear of such situations, I made my way to the door as quickly as I could. Outside I discovered that I had become collateral damage and the girl had managed to get some vomit on my Barbour and on my shoes. I went in a bar next door and got a cup of water and some napkins to clean up with a bit. I assure you, however, that I have never been more grateful to Mr. John Barbour and his invention of waxed cotton.