Rhett Miller At StageIt, Wednesday, March 18th, 2020 Reviewed
It is not every day you see Old 97’s, well, Rhett Miller but you know what I mean, perform a set while his sixteen year old son wanders into their room, his wife hides from the camera in the basement (that would be Erica Iahn, a little knock out and I wish we coulda seen her) and he pulls out his typewritten sheets of lyrics for the upcoming album and it is in a binder covered with pictures of his doggy.
Rhett makes his money performing concerts and he can’t provide for his family without playing live, and he can’t play live because of the Coronavirus, and is now worried about providing for his family, so he reached out to the live concert streaming website StageIt.
rocknyc wrote about StageIt during a Maria Taylor review back in 2013 (here): ““Stageit is an online venue where artists perform live, interactive, monetized shows for their fans directly from a laptop, offering fans unique experiences that are never archived.”, I am not sure why it isn’t archived, I would love to watch this concert again. You sign in to your account and you buy notes, 10 notes for a dollar with which you pay and tip the artists.” So, it’s a great idea and Rhett in search of ways to monetize his life found himself here, in the basement of his home:
“Howdy y’all, it’s my first foray into streaming performance!
I’ll be playing for you from my office in the basement of my Hudson Valley home.
My gigs have been cancelled for the upcoming months and I’m hoping to replace lost income AND continue to connect with you, the music lovers. Y’all are the reason I do this.
Since this is my inaugural show on this platform, you will be my guinea pigs. I’m hoping you’ll give me constructive criticism before I start demanding actual payment for these on-line gigs.
Thank you for joining me.
I can see a lot of reasons why this might not work except for one: it worked. I haven’t written one nice thing about Rhett in years, ever since a terrible show where Lydia Loveless opened for Old 97’s at Webster Hall (here) in 2014 and his ass shaking, hair waving, teen idol schtick Shaun Cassidy goes Ricky Nelson got real old.
So I’ve gone out of my way to skip Old 97’s with the same diligence I miss Drive-By Truckers: Rhett at City Winery? I don’t think so. But NPR have this listing of live streaming (here) and how could it be missed? Rhett’s no stranger to performing solo, and I knew he’d be able to speak to his audience, as he watched (tried not) the scroll of tips and comments, I think when he goes back to read em he might be a little bored with women wishing he’d open another button on his shirt, though the sense of community should please him, and while as a CONCERT concert, the fifty minute show wasn’t perfect it did everything you wanted it to. He saved “Won’t Be Home” from Drag It Up and his Mommy requested “Perfume” off The Grand Theatre, Vol 2, a song I’d missed completely. It is always a good sign when your two best songs at a show are two deep album cuts.
Though the quality of every song was fine, just Rhett hard strumming, with that half rasp, accentless, charged rocker voice, nailing “Jagged” and “Lonely Holiday” among the FIRST THREE SONGS (and here is a complaint, if he is gonna raid Fight Songs, where was “Oppenheimer”?), we also got “Question” and “Rollerskate Skinny” from Satellite Rides, all of these songs were first rate. Even, though better with a band, “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive” where he thoroughly botched the lyric and complained the song was too long, ending with biggest tipper request song “Four Leaf Clover” and classic last song “Time Bomb”. If I tipped most I’d have requested “No Baby I”…. Oh, yeah, wasn’t in love with the new song “Belmont Hotel” -maybe a coupla more listens…
I’d forgotten how great a songwriter Rhett is, I should have forgiven him Webster Hall and kept on going to his shows. But not so much where I will be stalking what he promises will be a performance every Friday at 6pm (and a special for children Saturday at noon) here and if you can’t afford it Rhett has made it available to anyone to tip as much as they can afford for what is a 50 minute show (half an hour plus 20 minute encore), the young socialist said “I would be crazy if you can’t see it because you can’t afford to”. I doubt I’ll be watching this Friday (I bet Steve Crawford will) and I bet the poor woman who expressed dismay how Rhett was gonna read the comments, with a “I didn’t mean how many times I said you were sexy”! Rhett is a mythical creature, along with Presidents, Playmates and Preachers… and model wives… He’s catchy…