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There was a moment early on Saturday night that showed just what kind of lifeless crowd came to see the sold-out Old 97’s show with Lydia Loveless at the 9:30 Club. In the balcony, early in the evening, there were disagreements among patrons between those sitting on the steps and the folks who wanted to stand in front of them at the railing. (Security had to explain that “the 9:30 Club is not a seated venue.”)
But the band worked hard to get the crowd going, and it finally got somewhere around the time lead guitarist Ken Bethea launched into that galloping guitar riff that starts “Doreen.” Which was a shame because, as usual, the Old 97’s played tight and were having a blast onstage, pulling tracks from different parts of their 10-album catalog. But they held no grudges. “Washington, D.C., 9:30 Club, we fucking love you. We appreciate you staying out late with us and getting drunk and shit,” said frontman Rhett Miller toward the end of the set.
The audience got an incredible double dose of opener Lydia Loveless, to boot. Not only did we see her play so hard that she broke two strings in 45 minutes, but she also came back to completely own the Exene Cervenka vocals when the 97’s played “Four Leaf Clover.” Loveless writes with a quick wit and is backed by a killer crew; her latest record, Somewhere Else will be at the top of many best-of lists this year, for sure. I was honored to be mistaken for her twice in the same night.
Check out photos from both sets in the gallery.
Old 97’s setlist If My Heart Was a Car Streets of Where I’m From Dance With Me Longer Than You’ve Been Alive Brown Haired Daughter The Ex of All You See Lonely Holiday Nightclub Give It Time Iron Road Nashville Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You) Question Up the Devil’s Pay Stoned The New Kid This Is The Ballad Barrier Reef Guadalajara Murder (Or a Heart Attack) Can’t Get a Line Big Brown Eyes Let’s Get Drunk and Get it On Doreen Four Leaf Clover (with Lydia Loveless)
Encore: Wish the Worst Most Messed Up Career Opportunities (The Clash cover) Timebomb