by Kate Whittle
Is it humanly possible to live in Missoula for a few years and not absorb all of Old Crow Medicine Show's discography into your brain?
Well, yes, it turns out, but I'll get to that in a minute. On Wednesday night I arrived at the Wilma for the Old Crow concert absurdly early. I took a gander around at all the women dressed like Stevie Nicks and realized I was drinking a $5 beer with a solid hour before the opener would start. Also, the Wilma was only serving beer and wine, and attending a bluegrass show without drinking whiskey seemed remiss. So I hopped over to the Rhino to pregame for a bit, and by the time I came back, soulful-folk band Parker Millsap had started. The lead singer looked like Gilbert Grape and had one goddamn hell of a voice.
Once they finished, I hung out by the stage drinking Kokanee and feeling weird because, up to this point, I had not run into one single person I knew. And then I got a kick in the butt from a local writer, who I'll call Jamie, since that is his name. He is apparently the one person in Missoula who doesn't know every Old Crow song by heart. He turned to me at the start of the show and said, "Wait a minute. This was billed to me as a rock concert." I advised that if he didn't like bluegrass, he ought to drink three more beers. This did the trick, I think.
The show itself was a hell of an evening. Professional performers, a well-organized stage, a sold-out venue packed with people who probably didn't have work in the morning, a setlist of new and old favorites; all making for an excellent time. I'm a little more used to mosh pitting at punk shows, so every time a dancing woman knocked her butt into me I had to restrain my reflex to hip-check her.
Toward the end of the show Old Crow played "Wagon Wheel," and from where I stood, the crowd nearly drowned out the band singing along. (Myself included. I unabashedly love that song.) By this point, Jamie was rocking out as hard as someone who dances like a trout possibly can. The band finished with a rousing rendition of "American Girl," and I was reminded again that I love Tom Petty songs but hate Tom Petty.
So, all in all it was a marvelous evening. Other events followed, including adventures at Charlie B's and dancing at the Badlander's karaoke, but we'll leave those glories undocumented.