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Andy Friedman had the Brooklyn Cowboy look down Wednesday night at the Red and the Black: Stained leather boots, a billowy flannel shirt tucked into ill-fitting jeans, a tarnished belt buckle, curly brown hair shaped into a fluffy pompadore, droopy eyes that were never all-the-way open, a five o’clock shadow, and a slight underbite that made it look like he had packed his bottom lip with snuff.
With the Other Failures backing him up (the Steve Cropper-like Matt Walsh on guitar and Adriane Palikat on drums) Friedman started his set with an uptempo country-cum-rockabilly number called “Road Trippin Daddy,” and from there on alternated every two or three fast songs with a ballad. The highlight of the evening was one of the latter: “I Miss Being Broken, Lowdown And Alone,” from January 2009’s Weary Things, is a melancholy waltz about chronic dissatisfaction—a real tear-jerker for those of us who think an OK apartment and an OK job in the District aren’t any better or any worse than that job and that place in that last city, or the city before that, or the city before that.
The ballads are where Friedman’s gravelly voice really comes through, and I was disappointed that he overplayed the fast stuff. Then again, I suppose a country band ought to keep the crowd moving, and to Friedman’s credit, at least two of the 15 people watching the show did some in-place boogying during the faster songs.