Dead to Me / Banner Pilot / Glitchell - live in Prairieville (Cover Artwork)

Dead to Me / Banner Pilot / Glitchell

live in Prairieville (2009)

live show

On a rough patch of gravel on a wooded stretch of highway just beyond a string of gas stations, strip clubs and a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the town of Prairieville, La. sits the Fat Cat Saloon. By view of the highway, the dank country western watering hole obscures a vacant swath of grassland, deforested years ago and left to an overgrowth of detritus and rusty beer cans. On most nights, the Fat Cat Saloon, which is a few minutes outside of Baton Rouge, would be an ideal spot to count passing tumbleweeds or possibly dump off a body in the field out back after pumping another handful of quarters into the jukebox for a rousing sing-along of Lynyrd Skynyrd's greatest hits. All of this, of course, made for the perfect setting to take in a post-Fest tour stop by Dead to Me and Banner Pilot, along with local pop-punks, Glitchell.

It had been, unfortunately, two years since I'd last had the opportunity to see Banner Pilot perform, once at The Fest in Gainesville and then a year earlier with Latterman and the Black Tie Bombers in Kentucky. Looking back on those shows, Banner Pilot was clearly still in the embryonic stages of their development, just a step beyond their obscure demo days as a two-piece group backed by a drum machine. The Banner Pilot of 2009, with much more time, touring, and practice behind them, has transformed not only into one of the fastest pop-punk groups around, but also one of the most precise. Judging the group purely on their performance in Prairieville, they didn't miss a note, despite the breakneck delivery of songs like "Greenwood," "Cut Bait" and "Empty Your Bottles." It doesn't take much to play fast music, but it takes a lot of skill to do so without fucking up a single note.

Dead to Me, touring with a new lineup which has been the subject of some recent internet scrutiny, closed the evening with a solid performance. Now, it is entirely possible that perhaps I wasn't "listening" acutely enough to the nuances of their set, like a "hardcore Dead to Me fan" would, but I found nothing wrong with their performance. The mumbled grumble of the disenchanted "longtime fan" always seems to be that "their older stuff was better." This sentiment, spoken almost with an air of universality when a "key" member leaves a band, also sounds a bit stunted. If dudes in ten gallon cowboy hats at the Fat Cat Saloon can get down with Dead to Me without worrying about subtle stylistic variations in their new material, then it really can't be all that bad, can it? I mean, no one yelled for "Free Bird." Oh wait, yes they did...

I would be remiss if I did not mention that Glitchell, the locals who opened this show, performed a steady set which was, at the very least, a decent outing for a moderately obscure college band.

For myself, the Prairieville show was well worth the drive from my home in New Orleans, about an hour and a half to the south. It has been no secret amongst touring bands that the region between New Orleans and Baton Rouge has been on a bit of a downturn since Hurricane Katrina, due somewhat to the slow recovery of the region's venues and diminished pool of local bands. Having bands like Dead to Me and Banner Pilot stop by for a show, even in some cowboy honky tonk on a dusty highway in the middle of nowhere is, without a doubt, a welcome change of pace.