Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Live Review: Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses

Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses
Hotel Utah
San Francisco, CA

It's always the small shows in the dive bars that end up melting your mind while simultaneously blowing your ear drums.

Friday night, Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses quietly crept into town to play the Hotel Utah in San Francisco, CA and proceeded to blow the doors off the joint with a 2+ hour show of impassioned juke joint-style rock 'n roll. And when the last remaining fans and Friday night barflys stumbled out of the Hotel Utah at 2 AM, one thing was clear - we are never going to see Bingham and his band play this small of a place again.

This was an old school show. No fancy lights, no tour bus, no large road crew. "The band didn't look too happy when they saw this place" one fan said to me as we sat upstairs at the Utah. As our crew of Friday night music freaks sipped pints of lager, we observed Bingham and the Dead Horses set up their own equipment and do a quick soundcheck before jamming their way into the first song of the set, "Roadhosue Blues" off their upcoming album Roadhouse Sun.

If the band was bummed to playing such a small venue, they sure didn't show it. Bingham and the Dead Horses, guitarist Corby Schaub, bassist Elijah Ford and drummer Matt Smith absolutley owned the place from the first note of the set.

Playing a mix of songs off the upcoming Roadhouse Son and 2007's Mescalito, Bingham and the Dead Horses absolutely slayed songs like "Hard Times", "South Side of Heaven" and new songs like the excellent "Tell My Mother I Miss Her So" and "Hey Hey Hurray". The band has obviously spent considerable time on the road playing similar juke joints and that touring experience has transformed the band into a muscular live threat.

Even with wasted hecklers up front who felt compelled to slur their way through song requests and one-way conversations with Bingham, the band didn't let the distractions derail them from giving the crowd a thorough dose of Texas-by-way-of-California country rock.

After closing the encore with a cover of Charlie Daniels' "Swee Lousiana", the crowd would not give up, prompting Bingham to emerge solo and perform an acoustic "Wishing Well" that transitioned to Townes Van Zandt's "Freight Liner Blues", complete with the Dead Horses back on stage and wailing on their respective instruments.

Great night of rock 'n roll.


Roadhouse Blues
Dollar a Day
Hard Times
Day is Done
Tell My Mother I Miss Her So
Dylan's Hard Rain
Boracho Station
South Side of Heaven
Endless Ways
Change Is
Hey Hey Hurray
Bread and Water
Ever Wonder Why
Long Way from Georgia
Sweet Louisiana (Charlie Daniels cover)
Wishing Well>White Freight Liner Blues (Townes Van Zandt cover)

**Special shout out to fellow blogger TandJam for snapping the photo above and for recording the show! Go here to download the show in mp3 or flac files.


Anonymous said...

I love your blog. Lots of great music. I'm a new regular reader, for sure.

Thanks for the shout-out and the linkage!

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