Old Crow Medicine Show showcased some of its roots last Saturday in Charlottesville, where the Nashville based group paid a little homage to their Virginia heritage. This was an early show in Old Crow’s current tour, a tour featuring not only The Devil Makes Three but also Sturgill Simpson, The Avett Brothers, and Willie Nelson & Family. The show at the nTelos Pavilion was a roaring set from Old Crow, preceded first by an exciting set from California group The Devil Makes three.
While some opening acts are dull time-fillers, The Devil Makes Three delivered a sonically distinctive set that was full of their unique self-defined “Punkified Blues,” combining some modern elements into their acoustic, old-timey three piece sound. They even had a fiddle player up on stage for much of their opening set, bringing in just a little extra Americana into their already rich music. There wasn’t a slow moment throughout, each tune delivering a foot tapping tempo and catchy harmonious vocals.
Immediately after, Old Crow Medicine Show took the stage, barely giving the audience a few moments to acknowledge their presence before blasting everyone with Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer, a track from their most recent album, Remedy. Clearly still riding the legacy of that acclaimed album, Old Crow sported the same iconic Tennessee stars on their drums as they did on Remedy’s cover. To keep with the southern culture aesthetic, the band also had a backdrop of suspended mason jars that lit up in sequences throughout the set. If that isn’t the most southern lighting design ever, I don’t know what is.
The thing that was impossible to ignore once Old Crow began to play was the level of polish in their performance. There are few other bands I’ve seen that carry out the degree of well planned and crowd pleasing theatrics. If the band members had set position on stage, they clearly didn’t care, because through almost every song they were in a frenzy, dancing and rallying all over the platform. My personal favorite moment was when frontman Critter Fuqua took up a fiddle and began sawing away back to back with fiddle player Chance McCoy. In fairness, to detail all the entertaining antics I would need an entire other article altogether. It was that much of a joyride.
Old Crow brought a huge variety of their sound from across their discography; some twangy bluegrass tunes, slow acoustic ballads, foot stomping alternative country jams, and a few fun covers. A good percentage of their set was devoted to the state that was their home. Songs like New Virginia Creeper, Carry Me Back to Virginia, and James River Blues all made it very clear that the band has no problem sporting their Harrisonburg origins. In normal fashion they played their BMI Country Song of The Year, Wagon Wheel, which is always a utter crowdpleaser
The encore was spectacular, delivering the audience a rendition of the band’s original Hard to Love before two covers that were as unexpected as they were fun: an acoustic version of Tom Petty’s American Girl followed by Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival to end the show. With that, Old Crow left the stage, and left the audience with an experience to remember. If you can see them on their current tour, it’s worth going out of your way to see an Old Crow show.
We’ll have more photos up shortly from this show.