Monday, June 09, 2008

The Bottle Rockets- step right up!

Maybe they call themselves 'roots rock' because 'Southern rock' ain't always a compliment (at least to some highbrows) but that's exactly what the Bottle Rockets play and they do it so well that they only trail Drive-By Truckers in the genre (and not by much). I'd go as far as saying that 1997's 24 Hours A Day is an almost perfect record and one of the finest offerings of the last decade. Brian Henneman doesn't just have a good feel for catchy songs but he has more of a feel for working class blues than most any Democrat candidate from this election season.

Now doing a 15th anniversary tour, Henneman told an appreciative, sold-out crowd at New York's Mercury Lounge, "We've been making set lists for fifteen year, now it's your turn!" And that wasn't just some wolf tickets he was selling either- he meant every word of it.

The band has been running a contest on their website where they asked fans to write a 20 song setlist for them. Henneman said that they'd gotten about 400 so far and had to chop it down to their favorite 15 entries for the latest tour. You have to bring the form to one of their shows but you don't have to be at the show that they pick your entry to win. And what do you get? Your choice of Henneman's $1500 guitar or "Bottle Rockets for life," which includes their whole catalog and every T-shirt but their entire future catalog and merchandise- as Henneman points out, if you chose the later, you're making an investment (and leap of faith) on the band's future. You can read through their website for more details and other ways to enter.

"For some songs, we were surprised that they were popular," Henneman told the New York crowd as he went through a set list that one fan had submitted to them. "It's also a look into the minds of our fans..." he said later.

On one hand, this might seem a little silly and crass but in this age when indie bands are lining up to get their songs positioned in commercials and TV shows, the Rockets seem to have a commendable idea. Not only do they get the fans involved but they also let them potentially pick out their songs for the shows and give them chances to get goodies in the bargain too. Crass? Hell no, it's brilliant.

And OK, they're not the first band to make offers like this to fans but it's definitely an appealing idea that other bands should take notice of and think of their own spin on it. Maybe they could offer a private show or a trip with the band to shows (if they wanna crowd in a van) or the chance to introduce the band at shows or something else like that. You call those gimmicks but as for me, sign me up.


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