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Friday, August 3
Better than: Having to take the train to Long Island or bus to New Jersey.
Nearly halfway through his set, after opening with Up All Night favorites “Crazy One More Time” and “Beer Money” and throwing in a Ryan Bingham cover for good measure, Kip Moore did something Manhattan country audiences might not be used to: He sang a song about New York City. On stage with only his acoustic guitar, Moore explained that he’s been here five times in the last year, and that he wrote this tune while looking out his hotel room window on one of those trips. By the time he got to the first chorus, I could spot at least two group hugs; when the occasional camera flash illuminated the main floor of the Bowery Ballroom, I saw maybe a half dozen makeouts.
In a way, the lyrics of the song didn’t matter as much as the fact of its existence. Here in SoHo, the same man who knows rural life as well as anyone—the aforementioned “Beer Money” is about finding small-town transcendence through the radio and purpose in scraping together enough singles for a six-pack on a Friday night, and his biggest hit “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” is about how there’s, well, somethin’ ’bout a truck—was confirming the big city as an equally legitimate place to live and an equally legitimate thing to experience. For an audience of transplants proudly wearing their flannel shirts and holding their “Beat Auburn” coozies, this gesture was more than a little endearing.
That said, if you did manage to catch the lyrics, you’d hear that despite increased population density, the song could would have been a perfect fit for Up All Night, continuing the album’s concern with connections made and connections lost. You might even call it the urban counterpart to its “Everything But You,” a tune that uses a “Sweet Jane” guitar line to tell a story of loneliness in paradise and a surprising omission from Friday’s set list.
The song was hardly missed, though, as Moore filled his time on stage with other album cuts, non-album releases like “Motorcycle” and “Mary Was the Marrying Kind,” and an unexpected cover of Kings of Leon’s “Back Down South.” Throughout the night, it was hard to miss the influence of rockers like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty: On “Crazy One More Time,” for instance, the first verse of “Thunder Road” comes to mind as he affects a Boss-like vocal strain and sings as a now past his prime protagonist waiting outside the house of a Mary Jane, waiting to see her dress sway once again, and “Reckless” less self-consciously chronicles the hits and misses of growing up working class, one of Bruce’s favorite subjects. The Petty influence, meanwhile, bubbled over when Moore ended his encore by segueing “Faith When I Fall” into—what else—”Free Fallin'” before releasing the crowd back into the city that has adopted us all.
Critical bias: Never owned a truck, but never owned a car either.
Overheard: Not an overheard, exactly, but yeah, salute to the girl who brought her “Beat Auburn” coozy with her to the show.
Crazy One More Time
Mary Was the Marrying Kind
Reckless (Still Growin’ Up)
Bread and Water
New York City
Break My Heart
Back Down South
Where the Party At
Hey Pretty Girl
Something’ ‘Bout a Truck
Faith When I Fall/Free Fallin’