The Old 97’s wrapped up their fall tour in Nashville at the Cannery Ballroom this week, celebrating the 15th anniversary of Too Far To Care by playing the album in its entirety. It was a loud, sweaty, boozy show, full of the boot-stomping drumbeats and riff-heavy guitars that anchored the band’s first major-label release. The Old 97’s tossed in some songs from other albums, too, hitting their recent Grand Theatre records especially hard.
Too Far To Care was released in 1997, back when alt.country was still being touted as “the next grunge.” The Old 97’s rode that wave as long as they could, accepting everything Elektra Records offered them — advances, free lunches, weeks in a top-shelf recording studio — without changing the kind of music they wanted to make.
“The Old 97’s got super lucky,” Rhett Miller told American Songwriter last year. “We were able to make the kind of music we wanted to make, and we still got to have $300,000 recording budgets. We kinda had the best of both worlds.”
For a band whose influences veer between ‘60s pop and old-school country, Too Far To Care has the best of both worlds, too. It’s melodic one minute and mighty the next, full of songs that examine love and heartbreak from the perspective of a 20something barfly who’s about two beers shy of passing out. It’s a great album to hear live, too, and Rhett Miller’s stage antics on Monday night — guitar windmills, karate kicks, booty shakes — made it clear that he was having just as much fun as us.