Better than: Having a wrecker tow your new black Jaguar out of high water, like I saw on the way to the show.
Download: Summertime rocker “Transistor Radio,” from Weeks’s latest album Sugarfinger.
Torrential floods kept the crowd small Tuesday at Mucky Duck as new Austin resident Randy Weeks ran through a string of glorious obscurities, hits he’s sold to artists like Lucinda Williams and several interestingly warped covers. With Houston vets Jack Saunders on bass and Eric Danheim on lead guitar, Weeks led off with two of his smart but difficult folk-rockers, “The Last Time” and the sly “Last DWI” before finding the deep rocking groove of “Motor City.”
Photos by Gini Reed
“I wrote this song about Detroit, and I don’t know why since I’ve never been there. But I have been to Minneapolis,” he said by way of introduction.
“Well, why didn’t you write a song about Minneapolis, then?” offered a wag in the audience.
“Too hard to make anything rhyme with Minneapolis,” he shrugged while kicking the tune off with his Tele.
Highlights of the first set included Weeks’ summertime L.A. radio hit “Transistor Radio,” the spooky “Miles Away,” and longtime standby “Ton of Shame,” from his days in LA cowpunk pioneers Lonesome Strangers. For the most part, Weeks worked the softer, psychologically twisted side of his catalog before taking a break.
While I didn’t see anyone sneaking out to the parking lot for an inspirational smoke, the band came back from a 15-minute break and immediately caught fire with the crowd-pleasing “Can’t Let Go,” a song Lucinda Williams covered on her Grammy-winning Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. From then on, it was all hellfire and guitar strings.
Weeks let Danheim loose for extended guitar workouts on the new “Tunnel of Love” (“Yeah, I think that’s a love song,” Weeks quipped), the snaky rhythm of “Fu Manchu” – as in “she’s had enough of your Fu Manchu” – and a blistering smash through J.J. Cale’s “If You’re Ever in Oklahoma.”
When’s the last time you heard a Mucky Duck crowd screaming for a murder song? As the audience realized the evening was winding down, there were more and more cries for “Linoleum,” Weeks’ song about a guy who comes home and finds “my girl and my best friend, twisted up on the linoleum.”
He shoots both: “Made my bed, now I’m gonna get down, under the covers when the sirens sound.” This was as close as we came to a singalong.
Not bothering to leave the stage during calls for “more,” Weeks held a little band meeting and wowed the remaining crowd with a searing version of Bob Dylan’s “Everything is Broken,” as he and Danheim traded several torrid twangy solos. By the time it was over, the rains had gone and we walked out into a damp night that screamed “welcome to the tropics.” – William Michael Smith
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SHOW ME HOW
Personal bias: Who says you can’t rock hard in a “listening room” noted for its persnickety shushers?
Random detail: If Weeks’ new song “Tunnel of Love” doesn’t make you want to fall in love or go on a second honeymoon, or something, you’re probably not very lovable anyhow.
By the way: Outside rap, there just aren’t enough good murder songs these days.