Friday night, explained by video concept? Yeah, kinda.
If ever there were a musical pigeonhole that perfectly describes my personality, it would be tour mom.
It's not very rock-n-roll, but I always have to have a plan. I'm usually the one who knows what day tickets go on sale and how much they are (with fees, of course); I'm the navigator and driver; I know who all the bands on the bill are and can usually tell you at least one fact about them; and I'm the one shepherding my friends to shows, excited to share the experience with them. In short, I might be a bit of a control freak.
So last Thursday when I found out The 71s were playing in Tomball Friday evening - not so far from my little corner of suburbia here in Houston - at a venue I've been wanting to check out...I wasn't all that disappointed when I put out the call on Facebook and was met with resounding silence.
A show all to myself? Yes, please.
Last summer, projects for my job took me through Tomball quite often. I became enchanted with this music venue on the east end of Main Street where the Blues Brothers silently watched me drive by from their perch on the roof. Around the third drive-by, I vowed to attend a show, and soon.
I guess soon is relative, because it took me a year to get there, but the wait was well worth it. Mainstreet Crossing in one part coffee shop-slash-bar, one part music venue and, on select nights, one part church. The nonprofit venue started in 2004 and regularly hosts live music Wednesday and Friday nights. While it's a far cry from a night at Fitz, Walter's, or even Warehouse Live, it's a quaint little venue worth a closer look. I walked in not expecting much and was pleasantly surprised by the coffee shop atmosphere, wide selection of beers (many Texas ones at that) and when the bands started to play, the sound. I grabbed a drink, found a table and settled in for what I hoped would be a quiet evening of music.
Down a bass player for the night, The 71s (or 53s, as they dubbed themselves minus one member...har har) still brought the rock I've come to love them for - if not slightly more subdued. Every song off their latest EP, Rock-n-Roll Reaction Vol. 2, sounded even more full and lush acoustic than recorded. As they played away under the glow of white Christmas lights for an audience quietly sipping their beers and politely applauding after each song, I faded away in the moment, enjoying the simplicity of doing nothing more than listening - no tour mom worries. Just music.
The 71s caught my attention, as I mentioned in my short review of their second EP, with their cover of "American Girl" back in late April. Friday night's set, with a different Tom Petty cover and Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" (trust me, it was stellar), solidified their status in my mind as an excellent live band. Any band can play a cover for the hell of it, but it takes some extra finesse to perfect the song the way The 71s do - it sounds exactly like the original, yet exactly like the band themselves.
It was an early show, so I decided to stick around and check out the other two bands - Stephen McCarley and David Davis - both of whom I found rather underwhelming. Stephen McCarley started off sounding typical Houston rock and wound up something something more akin to Gavin DeGraw. David Davis, who it turns out was celebrating his CD release - a fact I was unaware of until he announced it on stage - was a bit more cohesive and Marc Broussard-esque in his lyrics and stage presence.
Turned out the most enjoyable part of their sets was chatting with The 71s lead singer, Keeton. Shortly after their set, he pulled up a seat next to me and we proceeded to talk music on and off the rest of the evening - and surprisingly had a lot of bands in common. (Then again, when you introduce yourself to me as a big fan of Mike Love...I guess I shouldn't be surprised.)
I ducked out before the evening was done - something I've made too much of a habit for my liking in the last year - but not before grabbing copies of The 71s two EPs, which I recommend you pick up too right here. You can catch them again this Saturday at Warehouse Live - you can bet I'll be there...standing in the back, enjoying the music.
Alone and content, free of all tour mom worries for another evening.