March 22, 2008
As Outformation wrapped its winter run up, it showed no signs of weariness. Memphis always welcomes the band with open arms, and played host to the last night of their tour at Newby’s.
For most bands, there are two ways to play the final show of a tour: either mail it in, or blow it out. Outformation chose the latter, and it was immediately evident from the opening instrumental, "Frenchy’s Theme." There would be no phoning it in on this night, and if they were tired after going from city to city for weeks, it certainly didn’t show.
The first set was solid; from a rockin’ "Carnac" to the reggae-tinged "Check Me Out (With a Cheeseburger)," to the down-and-dirty "SG," Sam Holt and company showed the full versatility of Outformation. When they’re on a roll, as they were on this night, they’re a band that can really play with that "group mind" that makes Holt’s former employer so great.
The Panic comparisons are inevitable, and for the most part completely approrpiate. At times, the Newby’s crowd could have closed their eyes and not known whether the band on stage making music was Outformation or 1994-era Widespread Panic. For many message board critics this is an insult, but it’s really a good thing.
The second set brought the strongest playing of the evening, as the band clearly wanted to end their tour on a high note. The opening "Edgewater" bled into a spot-on cover of "Tulsa Time," driven by CR Gruver’s great vocals and keyboard work.
"’Bout My Money > Gimme Back My Bullets > ‘Bout My Money" was stellar, and was Outformation at their very best. Holt was tearing it up and Grady Upchurch was thundering along, until the two met in the middle of the stage and fed off each other.
The encore was a great way to end the show and the tour as a whole. The band stepped to the side of the stage for just a moment before reappearing to applause. They started with "Happy Child," and closed their time on the road with "Burned Faceless > Long Hard Ride." Perhaps the choice to close their journey was intentional, but if their time on the road was indeed hard, they certainly didn’t show any ill effects in Memphis.
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