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Waco Brothers - Texas Rubies

Schuba's - Chicago

[February 27, 1999]

First Appeared in The Music Box, April 1999, Volume 6, #4

Written by John Metzger


On February 27, Chicago's Waco Brothers held the first of two CD release parties at Schuba's Tavern to celebrate their latest effort Waco World on Bloodshot Records. At this Saturday night performance, the intimate venue was filled to the brim with both loyal devotees eagerly anticipating whatever the band would dish out and those folks just looking for a good party. Naturally, the group was happy to oblige both sets of fans.

The Waco Brothers led the festivities by taking a few moments between each song to pour down a variety of alcoholic beverages themselves. One can only imagine what would happen if they were to tour with the Rolling Stones. It certainly would be a night to remember, though it's doubtful anyone in either band would recall much of anything.

As is fitting for a CD release party, the Waco Brothers were determined to showcase the music from their latest disc. Waco World is bursting with songs that seamlessly combine classic country, rock, and punk, while embracing infectious, hook-laden melodies. It's certainly one of the best drinking albums to be released in a long time, making these songs the perfect complement to the evening's celebratory atmosphere. Not surprisingly, the band chose to perform all thirteen songs from the album, and these were, by far, the highlights of the concert.

While the album contains numerous subtle nuances and gestures, the live performances of these songs were vigorous, full-steam ahead powerhouses. Good for Me packed all the bile and rage that the band could muster, while Fire Down Below bounded over its edgy atmospheric groove with unabashed intensity. Likewise, the band plowed into Red Brick Wall with a vengeance. They channeled their fury into the churning anthem while simultaneously allowing the melody to flirt with a more graceful western swing groove, compliments of the deft steel guitar work of Mark Durante.

As the Waco Brothers tore through their nearly two-hour set, they improved with each selection that they performed. Every shot that they consumed seemed to bolster their confidence, providing further fuel for the group. The band turned each song into a shiny ball of pure energy, and at times the twin guitar attack of Jon Langford and Deano brought to mind the blazing intensity of Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

As the evening wore on, the Waco Brothers drew from an interminable wellspring of vim and vigor. The set concluded with the dual assault of Do You Think About Me and Plenty Tough Union Made. Both songs featured a high-octane blend of drums and bass that pushed the band to their limit, yet they miraculously managed to further increase the intensity level during their six-song encore.

In particular, bassist Alan Doughty became extremely animated, leaping and bounding back and forth across the stage and prompting the rest of the group to do the same. By the time the Waco Brothers blasted through a rousing rendition of White Lightning, which drew the show to its conclusion, the exhaustion finally began to show on the faces of both the band and their audience.

The Texas Rubies opened the show with mellow acoustic set. Try as they might, the country duo were unable to really capture the audience's attention and at times were virtually inaudible above the din of the sold-out crowd.

Waco World is available from Barnes & Noble.
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Copyright 1999 The Music Box