Five thoughts: Old Crow Medicine Show at Brooklyn Bowl (September 15)

Even if you only know “Wagon Wheel,” you’ll leave an Old Crow show smiling.
Photo: Chase Stevens/Kabik Photography
Chris Bitonti

1. There’s a better showing at Brooklyn Bowl than I’d anticipated for a Monday evening with a string band, however popular. The crowd seems mostly filled with jam fans, with a few traditionalists and hipsters sprinkled about (and it’s whiter than a gentrified Portland pickle factory).

2. OCMS is a band of expert multi-instrumentalists, who frequently switch and trade devices—sometimes midsong—and every member gets his turn on lead vocals.

3. You hear them from visiting bands at every show, references to “lost wages” and cliched reflections on the Strip, so it was refreshing to hear frontman Ketch Secor offer some genuine knowledge about the Silver State in his banter, calling out lesser-known landmarks (Hash House a Go Go!), surrounding cities and local history. The only misstep: his pronunciation of Ely.

4. Old Crow’s seemingly endless raw talent shined throughout, but the band members are at their best when they “burn down the barn and let Sin City know why we’re the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry,” as Secor put it. And they can certainly throw down some foot-stompin’, bass-slappin’, string-burnin’ good tunes.

5. You could easily have come to see OCMS without knowing much beyond their barroom staple “Wagon Wheel” and left a true fan. The presentation is so inviting and impeccably rehearsed, the show moves beyond a typical concert, instead recalling the art of old-time performance troupes.

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  • A few tips: Bring a water bottle and keep it filled, wear earplugs and be ready to deviate from your itinerary.

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