WASHINGTON, March 24, 2014 – When Cowboy Mouth started their set at the 9:30 Club recently, there was certain kind of energy in the air that almost seemed uncommon for an opening song. At first, the energy came in a quick burst. But what was really surprising was the way this band was able to maintain that level of energy throughout their entire set without so much as pausing for a single moment.
The show wasn’t sold out, but the sense around the club was that it felt a lot more crowded than the number of people who actually showed up for the performance. Talk with anyone there who considers them a fan of Cowboy Mouth and it’s easy to understand why this was.
The first thing they mention is how great a show Cowboy Mouth is going to put on because they’ve done it hundreds of times before and everyone there knows it, especially the band. That kind of knowledgeable anticipation, the expectation of the kind of excitement they know is going to happen creates its own kind of energy throughout the night. In turn, the band feeds off it while projecting it right back at everyone watching them live.
It’s obvious why the fans react this way to Cowboy Mouth, just as it should have been obvious prior to their appearance that the band was going to stage this kind of show. The band’s refusal to slow down the action throughout their set actually reflects how the band approaches everyday life beyond its live performances.
Cowboy Mouth formed in New Orleans in 1990, and has maintained a consistent pace ever since. In 1992 they released their first album “Word of Mouth” and last year they released their ninth studio album “This Train…” Released four years after their previous effort “Fearless,” it marked their longest hiatus between album releases.
Since their founding nearly 25 years ago, they’ve released new albums almost like clockwork, demonstrating they’ve never had any shortage of material for fans to pick up on. Cowboy Mouth is a band that just keeps plugging away in all aspects of their existence and the fans respond to them in kind.
What’s peculiar about all this, along with the devotion the band inspires in its fans, is that Cowboy Mouth doesn’t really have an identifiable hook. They had some moderate success in the late ‘90s with the single “Jenny Says,” but they were never that ingrained in the music mainstream even with that song and a few other minor hits.
They’re actually about as straight up a rock band as anyone will likely see. If someone were pressed to define an ideal blue collar/workman-like band, they’d probably end up describing Cowboy Mouth.
Nothing about the way Cowboy Mouth suggests that their intention was ever to reinvent the wheel in terms of rock music anyway. They’re perfectly content with blasting through their set playing the most appealing brand of rock ‘n’ roll they can.
And that’s exactly what they did during their set at the 9:30 Club. You might expect they’d pause for a breather from time to time, but that never actually happens, which makes this band that much more mesmerizing in a live performance.
Much of this attitude and drive emanates from Fred LeBlanc, the band’s drummer and front man. While that arrangement may seem a bit quirky, it really doesn’t influence their sound all that much, affecting their attitude and projection considerably more.
LeBlanc is actually the perfect conduit for this type of performance as he’s the equivalent of a perpetual motion machine that keeps getting faster. Even during brief lulls between songs while guitarist John Thomas Griffith and bassist Casandra Faulconer are tuning in preparation for the next song, LeBlanc keeps the beat going, hyping the band and never giving the audience a chance to pause or think about something else besides Cowboy Mouth.
Ultimately this is what amounts to a classic Cowboy Mouth show, a straight rock ‘n’ roll vortex where nothing else matters to the people in the crowd but Cowboy Mouth. They’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and it’s hard to imagine them slowing down any time soon.