Home Live Review Live Review: Mike and The Moonpies @ Pearl Street Warehouse — 2/3/23

Live Review: Mike and The Moonpies @ Pearl Street Warehouse — 2/3/23

Live Review: Mike and The Moonpies @ Pearl Street Warehouse — 2/3/23

Mike and The Moonpies (Photo by Dave Creaney Photography)

One of the coldest nights of the year became one of the hottest when a sold-out crowd packed the Pearl Street Warehouse on Friday night for Texas band Mike and The Moonpies. The wind chill, which neared single digits, couldn’t keep folks away. Before the band took the stage, the atmosphere was raucous: the packed venue sang along to classic country songs like David Allan Coe’s “You Never Even Called Me By Name” and Hank William’s Jr.’s “Family Tradition.”

When Mike and The Moonpies took the stage, the atmosphere became even more electric.

Coming out of the vibrant Austin music scene, Mike and The Moonpies have drawn comparisons to artists as diverse as Doug Sahm, known as the master of the “cosmic groove,” and George Strait, a leading light of the new traditionalist movement. Their music has been classified as Americana and Red Dirt, the latter a strain of rock and honky-tonk inflected roots music named for the color of the ground in the Lone Star State and Oklahoma. Whatever you want to call it, though, one thing is for certain: Mike and The Moonpies are as vital a representation of the classic country tradition as any band performing today.

Country music is often called “music of the people,” and the first song, “Paycheck to Paycheck,” got into that territory right away. They played loud, with twanging guitars, screaming pedal steel, and the complement of fiddle. The set included the things you’d expect in a country concert, drinking songs like “Smooth Shot of Whiskey” and “Bottle Beer” (which Mike introduced as “another old one”), tunes about cars, like “El Camino,” and ballads like “Rainy Day.” There were songs, too, which, if not exactly about love, were at least about lust, like “You Look Good in Neon,” and songs about living on the edge, like “Danger.”

Watch Mike and The Moonpies play “You Look Good in Neon” live on The Texas Music Scene via YouTube:

The Moonpies don’t just rely on country tropes, though. The title cut of Steak Night at the Prairie Rose delves into the lead singer’s parents’ divorce, mining childhood memories for potent lyrics. Their most recent album, 2021’s One To Grow On, is something of a concept album, with 9 tracks following the life story of one central character. Mike and The Moonpies have always been about switching it up: 2019’s Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold explored the string-laded Nashville Sound without setting aside the group’s sonic commitments, and the next year they followed that up with Touch of You, a set of covers of Gary Stewart songs.

Like many bands in the Red Dirt, there’s a big rock influence in what they do, and it’s clearest in their covers. The Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider” is a fairly natural fit for a country band, a song that if, not exactly country, is very, very southern. Fastball’s “The Way,” however, is much farther afield, and The Moonpies played this 90s alt-rock hit without their own distinctive sonic footprint, transforming it.

Mike and The Moonpies were in fine form throughout the set, and the crowd was, as mentioned above, totally into this show. Mike invited the audience to “sing along if you know it,” and the crowd didn’t hesitate to take him up on that. These fans knew this band and they knew the songs. People sometimes look down on the “bars” as musical venues — they think that the size of the show is somehow related to the quality of the music, and it’s not — but one of the great things about a show this size is the intimacy and environment. Music is, at its core, about connections between people, and the connection among the fans and between the fans and the band was palpable. 


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