Ever since the mighty Slobberbone broke up, I've been searching for my next favorite rock band. Some of the members of Slobberbone formed The Drams, and while I love the album and the show I caught in Minneapolis, it's not the same...they're not doing pure, unadultuerated rock anymore. The race has kind of been a toss-up between the Drive-By Truckers, Grand Champeen, and Two Cow Garage. I never expected The Yayhoos to be in the running, but after seeing them this Saturday, I'm having to put them into consideration.
When I found out that The Yayhoos were playing in Wapakoneta, I made immediate plans to go see them...mostly because I like the bar so much. Rhythm and Brews in Wapak is perhaps my favorite venue to see a rock show ever. The bar itself, first off, is a classic. It is a great roadhouse...but clean, neat, and orderly. They have a good menu and serve a very nice pizza. They have a friendly staff. They have a trough made out of galvanized steel, a pvc pipe, and a screwdriver in the men's room. My wife says the bar reminds her of a clean Urban Cowboy, but without the bull or Stetsons.
Wapak also boasts the best rock crowds I've seen. The audience for the show in Minneapolis had (for the most part) only mildly polite applause, and the crowd all looked bored. The shows I've seen in Detroit mostly consisted of people incessantly discussing their weekend plans and only playing scant attention to the bands. Cleveland crowds, while very appreciative, are a little too "hipster" for my taste. Ann Arbor crowds boast too many college students trying to be hippies, and that can get really annoying.
Wapak, on the other hand, is mostly 50-something farmers and factory workers. But they really love their bands and know all the material by heart. They are loud. They are appreciative. They are boisterous. And they make going to see a band really fun.
Opening the show was some very wirey, 15 year old-looking singer/songwriter wannabe named Wil Cope. His songs were all good, but he was just very one dimensional...everything had the same tempo, same picking pattern, and it all sounded very forlorn. He was okay, but I was amazed at how badly he marketed himself. He only said his name one time, and he only alluded to the fact that he had cds available for sale...maybe he doesn't need the money, but he struck me as someone who was trying too hard to be an "artiste."
The Yayhoos brought it like nothing I've seen in a while. They were loud. Every member was great, had wonderful stage presence. And they played and played...we got two hour-plus sets and two encores. Some highlights:
- cover songs. We got (of course) "Dancing Queen," but we also got an impromtu jam leading into "Love Train" and Roscoe singing "You Were Always On My Mind."
- virtuoso musicianship. Roscoe Ambel started doing great slide guitar with a Sam Adams bottle. However, the surprise of the night, musicianship-wise, was Keith Christopher. Why didn't anyone tell me he was such a monster? He took bass solos...and they rocked AND fit into the songs. When he took over Dan Baird's guitar for "For Crying Out Loud," he just ripped through a blazing solo that made the rest of the band just sorta blink.
- dancing girls for "Dancing Queen"...from the audience (no, the band didn't bring their own)
- tons of material from both albums.
Before playing "Baby, I Love You," Roscoe told of their last time through. That time, when they were doing their 4pm soundcheck, a man and woman came in who were apparently celebrating their anniversary...but during the 15 minute break they had between split shifts at different factories. Apparently, the couple requested a slow song, the band played "Baby, I Love You," and the couple slow-danced...and that dance apparently bordered on conjugal visit territory.
Halfway through the second set, some sick bastard puked in the men's room trough, clogged up the drain, and it flooded out the bathroom floor...not being able to use the rest room for about 30 minutes put a little bit of a damper on the set, especially since I'd been drinking a number of High Lifes, but the brave (yet disgusted) bar staff managed to get it cleaned up before anything dangerous happened.
Although there were only about seventy people in the crowd, the yelling and stomping pulled the band out for two encores, including a rousing "I Love You, Period"...which was apparently the last song they'll play together on this tour...I guess Steve Earle must be calling Roscoe or something.
It's too cliched to say I felt "rocked-out," but it was one of the best rock shows I've ever seen. The Yayhoos were ultimately much better than I would've guessed. They are tremendously fun, they were very talented, and they worked together beautifully. I don't think they're my favorite rock band (the albums aren't as consistent as was the band live), but I would go see these guys again in a heartbeat.
It was raining for the 1 1/2 hour drive home, and it hasn't stopped since, but that's just not depressing me...I still have a slightly manic grin, even though the ringing in the ears has died down...a little.