Dallas alt-country rockers Old 97’s damn near tear up the joint when they have the right size crowd, and this rowdy, sweaty, downright charming DVD is as close as you’re gonna get to the real thing without paying a cover. Taped at Hollywood’s venerable Troubadour just before the release of last year’s Drag It Up, Live finds the band high on new material, premiering four new cuts for an appreciative crowd. But the bulk of the disc draws from the band’s catalog, all the way to their 1994 debut Hitchhike to Rhome. Concert DVDs are as plentiful as water molecules now, so be advised that the only two qualities that ever really matter — great songs well-performed, and quality production values — are what lift this sucker above the herd. So clearly filmed you can read the palm prints on the body of Ken Bethea’s banged-up Telecaster, so precisely recorded you can hear frontman Rhett Miller popping his p’s into the mic through the sweat slicking his face. By turns frenzied, funny, world-weary and beer-woozy (much like the 97’s’ best music), Live works just as well with the video off. Old 97’s fans couldn’t have asked for a better show, but the band itself couldn’t have asked for better documentation of its talents.
Eric Waggoner writes about books for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].