We Got Seriously Down

Rhett Miller Performing at the Troubadour

If you’ve been following my blog, it is no secret that Rhett Miller is one of my favorite songwriters and performers, so of course I go see him play every chance I get. This time he brought his solo show to the Troubadour in Los Angeles, CA on July 29, 2017.  It was apparently also take your children to work day on the Rhett Miller Tour as Rhett had his son (President of the Anti Social Social Club, according to the back of his shirt) and daughter along. They joined him on stage to introduce the opener — actress, musician, and icon to quirky, cute girls everywhere, Kate Micucci.

Kate Micucci Performing at The Troubadour

Kate brought along her sappy, goofy, amusing, twisted observational comedy songs and a few friends with questionably funny skits. It was a different choice for the Troubadour stage before a rocking music show, with some of the audience members absolutely loving it and others not so much. Her show progressed as follows:

  1. I Love You” — Kate said she wrote this song the day after the US election in November to cheer up her friends.
  2. I Want to Be a Nun (The Nun Song)
  3. Mr. Moon” — A song inspired by driving east on the 10 and seeing the moon set in the ocean.  This was followed by a fake introduction of performer Allie Awesome (Kate can’t remember her last name and just calls her Awesome) and a bunch of nonsense with the pretend stage manager Dan Beam, portrayed by actor Davey Johnson.
  4. Sad Clown” — A song inspired by Kate having a brief job as a clown, which she quit because of her inability to make complicated balloon sculptures.
  5. Happy Song”  The one that starts, “I wanna be happy, I wanna be sad.”
  6. Happy Song” (a different version) — written for Scrubs, when they “needed a happy song to play under a sad scene.” (Scene at the link.)
  7. Soup in the Woods” — Kate told the story of making soup in the woods with her dad and family during a blizzard and while at the time the focus was on the soup, but really they were making memories.
  8. Dear Deer” — A letter to deer as a warning about her Dad hunting. Followed by a strange trombone bit with Kate and Dan and then the strange sleight of hand/magician/weirdness of the character Mesmerizo, portrayed by Ron Lynch.
  9. Doreen the Whale” — Kate’s song was based on the true story of a male whale who communicates in decibels too high for other whales to hear (though in Kate’s song it is based on a female who sings too low).
  10.  “Have You Met My Robot” — Song at 11:30 in the program at the link.
  11. “The Ghost of Pasadena” — Inspired by doing a ghost walk around Pasadena, the live version included audience participation for the ghostly “ooo’s.” This was followed by Kate pretending to talk to her mom on a flat paper phone.  Kate’s brother, Matt Micucci, was also partaking in some of the sketch comedy silliness that evening.
  12. Fall Asleep” Introduced as a song for Jessie, explained and performed at the link. Followed by further business with Dan Beam getting a proper sip of coffee.
  13. Walking in Los Angeles” — Allie Awesome finally appears to accompany Kate on violin. When her set is done, Kate and Rhett’s kids introduce Rhett.
Kate and Allie (Yes, I had to caption in that way — ’80s sitcom fans represent!)

I’ve written about Rhett so many times before I’m just going to stick to the round-up of what he played and said at this concert. I don’t have to go into detail about how much I love his clever lyrics, rich vocals and powerful held notes, rapid guitar playing, signature WindMiller move, hair flinging, hip swinging, sweat streaming, and spit spraying performances. Phew! So how about that set list?

Rhett at the Beginning of His Set
  1. The Melt Show” from the Old 97’s album Too Far to Care
  2. Our Love” from The Instigator. After this song, Rhett explained to the audience that he was wearing one of those shirts where the button placement is either too low or too high and his daughter made him button his shirt, but he felt so weird with it like that for the first two songs he had to unbutton that top button. Though he promised the audience, “I’m going to try to keep the nipples inside.” My dream is to hear Rhett sing this one live with Jon Brion recreating his guitar solo.
  3. Jesus Loves You” from the Old 97’s new album Graveyard Whistling. Rhett said it was about a guy having difficulty trying to date a girl because “the guy she was hung up on died. But he did get resurrected – supposedly.”  Link is to video I shot last year at the Troubadour. You can pretend it was from this year though, he was wearing the same shirt!
  4. Wish the Worst” from the Old 97’s album Hitchhike to Rhome. Rhett introduced this one by saying that he was in California because he had a cousin who just got married and she asked him to sing a song after the toast and left it up to him to choose which one. He joked that he went through the list of possible songs with his kids and this was the one he played.
  5. Let’s Get Drunk and Get it On” from the Old 97’s album Most Messed Up
  6. She Hates Everybody” from Graveyard Whistling
  7. Singular Girl” from The Believer
  8. Nineteen” from the Old 97’s album Fight Songs. Rhett introduced this song by saying when he first wrote it, he thought his band would like it. They recorded it, but then wouldn’t play it live (so he plays it solo). Funny connection with that age and this show, the security guy’s jaw dropped when checking my age on my license during the entry process and said he thought I was 19! In honor of that I’ve chosen an apt lyric from the song, “We got seriously down!” (in the party/dance sense — so many possible meanings there) for the title of this blog post. DSC00559
  9. All Who Wander” from Graveyard Whistling
  10. Big Brown Eyes” from the Old 97’s albums Wreck Your Life and Too Far to Care
  11.  “I Don’t Wanna Die in This Town” from Graveyard Whistling. Rhett was joking before this song that the Old 97’s don’t rehearse and I think that was related to why this song wasn’t played much on their last tour. So it was very cool to hear his solo version, which I videoed at this show; find it at the link.
  12. Question” from both the Old 97’s album Satellite Rides and Rhett’s album The Believer. He told the story that he discovered his daughter was teaching herself to play the piano with this song. Also, of course this was the song that he actually played at his cousin’s wedding. He included the French verse in this rendition.
  13. Picture This” from The Dreamer, link to video I shot at this show.
  14. Rollerskate Skinny” from Satellite Rides, video from last year’s show.
  15. Fireflies” – Rhett asked for a volunteer from the audience to sing this duet with him. Local singer Tara Kelly joined him for her moment to shine on the Troubadour stage. Video I shot from this show at the link.
  16. Longer Than You’ve Been Alive” from Most Messed Up
  17. Most in the Summertime” from The Traveler. Rhett introduced this one by saying,  “I wasn’t going to play this song until the L.A. Weekly guaranteed it.” Rhett referenced the L.A. Weekly article by Jackson Truax recommending readers see the show, “Expect one of the evening’s highlights to be ‘Most in the Summertime,’ a standout from Miller’s bluegrass-leaning 2015 album, The Traveler, that’s already become a sing-along showstopper.” Well, I am glad he played it, as it was the only song of the night representing that album.
  18. Barrier Reef” from Too Far to Care
  19. Drinkin’ Song” from Graveyard Whistling
  20. Four Leaf Clover” from Too Far to Care
  21. Doreen” from Hitchhike to Rhome and Wreck Your Life
  22. ENCORE “In Spite of Ourselves” John Prine cover (duet with Kate Micucci), video I shot at the show at the link.
  23. California Stars” cover of a Billy Bragg song, Rhett told the story about learning a bunch of songs in order for the Old 97’s to be Billy Bragg’s backing band in the UK, but then their visas were revoked. Rhett feels some regret over that, but then he added that if he had done it, maybe he would be a different person (which from the way he said it, it sounded like he wasn’t sure that he liked that idea).
  24. Timebomb” from Too Far to Care, Rhett and the Old 97’s always close a show with this one. As usual, Rhett delivered one helluva show to a crowd that absolutely loved it!