Monday, December 06, 2004

I think he’s an all right guy.


Todd Snider held forth with his usual mix of wit, wisdom, and all right guy commentary to a packed house at Headliners on Friday night. Snider tends to attract an interesting audience. There’s always a large contingent of partying frat boys screaming for him to play “Beer Run.” And then there are the rest of us, a little older and more settled, who like everything else he plays and realize the “Beer Run” is actually making fun of the guys that keep screaming for it.

The problem I’ve always had with his shows (particularly those held in bars) is that the guys screaming for “Beer Run” are so wrapped up in themselves and their version of a good time that they really spoil things for everyone else. “Beer Run” is a good song. It’s clever and funny, but it’s not the only song he’s written. When we’ve seen him in the past, he’s played to that part of the crowd, which has made for a good show, but one that felt a little unbalanced.

This time around, it was different. It wasn’t that he ignored the Beer-Runners in the crowd, but he balanced the songs that appealed to them with the rest of his tremendous catalog. So we got “All Right Guy” and “Double Wide Blues” mixed in with a huge helping of stuff from his newest CD, Nashville Skyline, and a lot of great older stuff that often gets ignored, like “Horseshoe Lake.”

And he didn’t play “Beer Run.”

Ignoring what is arguably his signature song could seem like a risky move, but it worked. It felt to me like he was saying to the crowd “I know you like that song, but I’ve got a whole lot of other good stuff. Come along and give it a try.” And they did, right through the whole night, plus three encores. And the last one was a real encore. The house music had started back up, but the crowd was still asking for more, so Snider came back and gave a little more.

It was an awesome evening, opener Will Kimbrough played a great set of his best songs and then came back to play with Snider, along with a bass player. All three of them were obviously having fun together and that feeling encompassed the crowd as well.

“Beer Run” or not, I doubt anyone left the show unsatisfied.

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