As I entered Jammin' Java to an already crowded venue, I remembered how I started listening to Rhett Miller. It was during my college years when a friend stumbled upon his album Instigator. I took a listen and played “Our Love” and “Come Around” on repeat – I think my roommate got sick of the album by the end of the school year. It was to my delight when I discovered that he was also the front man for the Old 97’s, dubbed in the alternative country genre, but Miller’s solo project is slightly different. His new album, The Dreamer, attempts to tie his two musical careers together.
In support of his new album, Rhett Miller played a sold out show at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, VA. His album, in which he produced himself, is a labor of love with an Old 97’s feel backed by Rhett’s strong vocals. In honor of his loyal fans who came near and far to hear Rhett play, his set was extra long with Miller announcing “We have a lot to get through tonight so let’s get started!”
Diving right in, Miller sang “Lost Without You” from his latest album followed by “The El” from his Instigator album and then “Murder (or a Heart Attack)” from the Old 97’s album Fight Songs. Three songs in and it was clear that Rhett was in the groove. There was an organized chaos with the song list jumping from new to old and solo to group but Miller made it work in his favor. Towards the latter part of the set, the songs got tighter and more refined and Rhett’s vocals sounded crisper.
The crowd followed Rhett Miller from start to finish. They sang along or swayed back and forth in time to the backed up beats by The Lady Serial Killers who is on tour with Rhett for The Dreamer. Miller and the band kept the crowd pumping and even though they were churning out song after song to get through their long list, they still took time to acknowledge the crowd, thanked them for their support and finished off strong with his solo hits “Question”, “Rollerskate Skinny” and the ever-popular “Our Love.” And by the looks of the crowd, their love for Rhett Miller is strong and will go on and on.