Sam Outlaw's First Dallas Show Was One Of A Kind.
For a bar that initially didn't even have designs on ever hosting live music, Twilite Lounge sure seems to host its share of incredible shows. Hell, it's probably the only place left on earth with a posted 50-person capacity where you'll ever see a full band electric set from The Old 97's anymore.
Of course, SoCal country boy Sam Outlaw didn't necessarily know this before performing his wonderful new Angeleno LP live on Twilite's back patio last night.
“When I saw that we were playing outside at 11 p.m. on a Tuesday, I thought someone was trying to butt-fuck our first Dallas show,” the singer said mid-set during last night's proceedings, while looking genuinely surprised at the sizable crowd that turned up on a perfectly crisp fall eve to hear him play.
Seems word had gotten out that Sam Outlaw's first-ever non-SXSW-related Texas show was not to be missed. And it really wasn't: Just like we postulated beforehand, this one had all the makings to be another of those once-in-a-lifetime-type shows, in that, like Sturgill Simpson's Dada show this time last year and Chris Stapleton's more recent turn at City Tavern, this will likely be the one and only time the rising country star plays a joint this tiny. (To wit: Simpson and Stapleton's next shows back in town following those intimate little turns were as headliners at the 6,000-capacity Billy Bob's and the 2,500-capacity Gas Monkey Live, respectively.)
It was, indeed, a special showing. Everyone in attendance — a lot that included a few dozen local country and Americana musicians, a Hall of Fame Texas Rangers broadcaster and a whole bunch of folks with good taste — watched reverently as Outlaw rolled through his complete catalog of laid back, gentle country. (He calls it “soft rock with pedal steel.”) Making it even more special was the fact that his Gram Parsons-recalling California-bred country was being pulled off by a bunch of Texas boys: Outlaw's backing band for this current Texas swing is members of Houston native Robert Ellis' band — including Mr. Ellis himself on keys and rhythm guitar.
Like I said, special.
Offsetting his steady pace of downtempo numbers was Outlaw's endearing as hell, obscenity-laced between-song banter, which exuded both an extreme humbleness and that indefinable big-time star quality. It's the kind of charm that gives you the sense that he could just nonchalantly whip out an old Patty Loveless tune and bring the house down.
Turns out, he's totally capable of just that: His cover of Loveless' “Blame It On Your Heart” to kick off a quick two-song encore was the liveliest things got all night. If anyone was still unconvinced of the California boy's authenticity up to that point, that effort pretty much put all doubt to rest.
Like Outlaw says so often in interviews, he gets that his stage name and hometown turn a lot of folks off to his brand of admittedly very un-“outlaw” country before they ever even hear it. That's fair enough, one supposes. But, as we learned last night, it's hard to walk away from one of his shows a non-believer.
And, after making that cramped little Twilite Lounge patio feel like a 1,000-capacity room last night, we certainly don't doubt that he's headed for more big things — and sooner rather than later.
We just thank our lucky stars we got to see him before he does.