Photos by Rhiannon Bradley, Review by Scott Roberts
Originally scheduled at The Peachtree Tavern, Locos (just across the parking lot) became the unlikely venue for veteran alt-country-esque rockers The Bottle Rockets and venerated singer/songwriter Marshall Cresnshaw on Thursday night. But both acts made the most of the last-minute change and filled the small attached room of the Buckhead restaurant with some sweet musical memories on Thursday night.
The sound was surprisingly pristine in the rectangular box-like Locos, and the elevated stage allowed for perfect viewing by any of the all-age crowd—which ranged from a 10-year-old kid to a white-haired gent who looked to be a septaugenarian–of about 100 packed into the seatless club. The Bottle Rockets took the stage a little after 9 p.m. and barreled through a set that included songs their forthcoming as-yet-untitled record as well as several “virtual hits”–as lead singer/guitarist Brian Henneman affably referred to them—from their 20-year catalog, the most well-known being either “Radar Gun” or “Thousand Dollar Car.” The St. Louis-based four-piece are a classic no-frills, four-chord bar band (in the best sense of the word) and their musicianship is rock-solid and their energy infectious.
After a short break, the Rockets returned to the stage as Crenshaw’s more-than-able backing band, and the looseness from their own set was replaced by a sort of studied intensity, perhaps as a result of the band understandably not being as familiar or comfortable with the headliner’s set (though they have played several shows together in this manner). The pop songsmith, once touted as his generation’s answer to Buddy Holly, opened with a brand-new song (which he introduced slightly sarcastically as a “bold move”), the gentle “Stranger and Stranger” from his recently-launched EP series in which he plans to release an EP of newly recorded music every four months for the next two years. The song nestled comfortably with the rest of Crenshaw’s substantial 30-year body of work, older songs which the majority of the crowd was there to hear: Crenshaw did not disappoint with his set selection. Crowd-pleasers included “Mary-Anne,” “Cynical Girl,” There She Goes Again,” and his signature “Someday, Someway,” all from his still-flawless self-titled 1982 debut album, as well as “Whenever You’re on My Mind,” “Television Light,” a cover of Richard Thompson’s jaunty “Valerie,” and Crenshaw’s pre-first-album single “Something’s Gonna Happen.”
An evening that Crenshaw himself admitted to being fearful would end up a “train wreck” turned out to be a joyful celebration of solidly written and performed tunes by two artists who are both testaments to tenacity and timelessness.