Reviewed by Bill Tokash
It was one of those perfect early spring nights that Chicago music fans dream of all winter long. Perfect sunny, warm weather. A perfect venue. And a fantastic band that perfectly matches the aesthetic of the venue. The Empty Bottle has long been one of my favorite places to see a show, and last Friday the triple bill lineup headed up by hometown Bloodshot Records artist Sarah Shook and the Disarmers exceeded everyone’s expectations.
The first time I saw Sarah Shook and the Disarmers was last summer at Fitzgerald’s American Music Fest, right before Shinyribs came on. And I have to confess, at that point, I had just skimmed the surfaces of Sidelong and my expectations were fairly limited. But I was blown away. This time around, after extended hours of repeat listens to Sidelong, and Years, their 2018 release, this fan was fully amped for the show.
After lively opening sets by local Twangers The Family Gold and Nashville’s Thelma and the Sleaze, Sarah and the Disarmers broke ice on their closing set with the smooth ramble of Good as Gold, followed by a bluesy version of Heal Me. We were all off the mark and running full blast after that! Other highlights in the 18-song set included a heartfelt version of Fuck Up, the slow bluesy drawl of The Bottle Never Lets Me Down, and a peppy version of Misery Loves Company. It was just about the time I said to myself that I’d be fixin’ to dry out tomorrow. The encore brought a closing left hook-straight right combo that included a “Sarah-crowd-immersion” version of Dwight Yoakam – a song with a soulful sing-a-long chorus – and a boisterous rendition of The Nail. We were all knocked down and ready to be counted out!
Just remember, y’all, there are two more chances to see Sarah Shook and the Disarmers this summer here. They’ll be back at this year’s American Music Festival in Berwyn on Saturday, June 30, and then the next day they’ll be playing the Lightning Bug Music Festival in Valparaiso, Indiana. I’ll be there at both shows.
Good as Gold
Nothing Feels Right But Doin’ Wrong
Heartaches In Hell
Damned If I Do, Damned If I Don’t
Keep The Home Fires Burnin’
The Bottle Never Lets Me Down
Misery Without Company
New Ways To Fail
What It Takes