Rehab, Rhythm Room, 8/30/12

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Rehab @ Rhythm Room| 8/30/12

Not since bearded-era Jim Morrison have rotund drunks been celebrated with such crazed enthusiasm. Not that I could ever compare last night's Rehab show at The Rhythm Room to even the most spaced-out of Morrison's career and consider it fair.

But I did learn a few things as a result of the performance, and that's all anyone can hope for sometimes.

First, my tolerance for generic hillbilly hip-hop is not very high, and I openly blame Kid Rock for much of the problem. The greatest lie ever perpetrated by the music industry was that that man has talent. Smashing together other peoples' songs and rewriting the lyrics doesn't mean you have any more talent than the bands I saw last night. But I digress.

The show started out with E Rose, a hip-hopper from Fresno, California, who spent his short 20-minute set rapping about everything from drinking to drugs. He's what I'd imagine Jam Master Jay would sound like, if Jay spent the '70s freebasing and bragging about his "party posse", while backing his rhymes with songs like Neil Young's "Heart of Gold." I really wanted to like him, and towards the end of his brief set, I kind of started to.

My previous Kid Rock rant was inspired, almost entirely, by the band that followed. Moonshine Bandits took the stage next. What can I say about these guys? An inbred lovechild of hip-hop and country? Another Uncle Cracker knockoff? A band that spent way too much time talking about how "outlaw" they were? Yes, all of that. Here's the sad truth: This isn't Sons of Anarchy. This is Phoenix. Most of us part-time "hell raisers" (they used that term a bunch too) care nothing for your pseudo-redneck musical pissing contest of whiskey chugging and beer slamming. We prefer honesty. At least I do.

It was bad enough that the group's DJ bombarded the crowd with awful samplings of Johnny Cash, Warren Zevon, Lynard Skynard, and Creedence, in some attempt to energize a crowd full of country-loving yuppies. But to make matters worse, songs like "For the Outlawz" and "Whiskey and Cigarettes" lacked any conviction. The madness would continue through "Moonshine" and "Whiskey in My Soul" before they decided to open the performance up to the crowd by charging into a participatory version of Garth Brooks' "Friends in Low Places"--one of the worst karaoke songs in recorded history.

This segued rather seamlessly into the band's own version of Lynard Skynard's country rock anthem "Sweet Home Alabama," titled "Sweet Home California." There was just one problem: The crowd quickly grew tired of the ongoing repping of California and decided to, thankfully, change the lyrics to "Sweet Home Arizona." Another testament to The Bandits' failure to care, or realize, that they weren't in California and that the Phoenix crowd simply wasn't interested in how great its neighbors were.

Rehab finally took the stage and pounded through "Let Em Know" and "1980." They ran through "Jam On It", an homage to the Newcleus hit single. Singer Danny Alexander showcased his talent as a true hip-hopper with his lightening fast delivery during "Graffiti The World," as well as his overwhelming power during "Walk Away" and "Welcome Home". Thankfully, Rehab skipped the encore that has become mandatory with most groups these days and finished their 24-song set with "Bartender." The alternating of lead vocal duties between Alexander and Demun Jones worked out well, making sure the band stayed fresh through the grueling set. The crowd, chugging water instead of whiskey at this point, seemed thrilled with the performance, as drunken cheering was ongoing even as people began to filter out into the parking lot.

Set List:

Moonshine Bandits:

"Whiskey River" "Whiskey and Cigarrettes" "Moonshine" "Whiskey in My Soul" "Dive Bar Beauty Queen" "Fire it Up" "Sweet Home Alabama/California/Arizona" "For the Outlawz"

Rehab: "Let Em Know" "1980" "All Night" "Jam On It" "Get Better" Graffiti the World" "Scared o Change" "Go" "Hungry" "Fred" "Super Model" "Ride Out" "Future" "We Live" "Walk Away" "Talk About" "Lightening Bolt" "Lawn Chair" "Welcome Home" "Kung Pao Chicken" "Crazy People" "Drinking Problem" "Storm Chaser" "Bartender"

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Rehab with Moonshine Bandits and E Rose at The Rhythm Room The Crowd: Large amount of middle-aged professionals Overheard: "We went to Vegas as friends and came back married." Best Shirt: Grown Man wearing Saved by the Bell tee-shirt with Kelly Kapowski on it. Random Notebook Dump: Did I just see a 40-year-old get dropped off by her mom?

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