the unofficial uncle tupelo archives 

Uncle Tupelo, Bottle Rockets: Local Treasures

Paul Hampel

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 5, 1993

Local VIPs have been busy lauding the city's positive attributes andtrying to soothe the wounds inflicted by our failure to snare an NFL franchise.

While they're at it, they might add two local bands to the list of local treasures: Uncle Tupelo and the Bottle Rockets.

Both acts played tight sets of country rock before a packed house Friday night at Mississippi Nights.

After performing as a trio for years, Uncle Tupelo showcased a five-man roster. Max Johnston, John Stirratt and Ken Coomer supported original members Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy in covers of country gems and originals, including several from the act's latest album, "Anodyne."

Uncle Tupelo's stock-in-trade is a tasteful blend of hard-core punk bursts and old-timey hillbilly rhythms, showing in the process that elements as disparate as fiddles and Marshall amps can serve as a fine framework for lyrics about the timeless laments of common people.

Among the evening's highlights was the furious stop-go syncopated "Fifteen Keys"; the fine harmonies on "Atomic Power"; Farrar's smooth guitar picking on "Watch Me Fall"; a rave-up of the traditional "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down"; and "We've Been Had," a bitter anthem as fitting for Generation X as it might have been for its grandparents.

The Bottle Rockets got things rolling with a raucous 45-minute set before a rapt, foot-stomping crowd.

The band's melodious power-pop delivery made "Gas Girl," from its eponymous debut, the best song played by either band all night.

"We ain't cute. We ain't grungy. We ain't Seattle," snarled lead singer/guitarist Brian Henneman.

And we ain't a football town. But on Friday night, who cared?

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