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Son Volt/The Apples In Stereo live on October 6, 1997 at Toad's Place, New Haven, CT

Son Volt, one of the leaders of the so called “alt-country” movement, returned to Connecticut October 6th for what I believe is only their second appearance in our state. The first was a great, albeit, abbreviated set on the second stage of the ’96 HORDE Festival in Hartford. This whole “alt-country” movement, which consists of bands like Son Volt, Wilco, and Sparklehorse is attracting a lot of attention from the mainstream music press but still seems to be drawing about the same number of fans. Son Volt played to a few hundred, in a club that can hold twice that number.

The band took the stage and immediately began, where they left off last year, with their rocking country sound. This is the same style that we heard on the first two Uncle Tupelo albums, the band, from whose remnants both Wilco and Son Volt were forged. They sounded great and delivered a very well-received set of roughly 70 minutes. As a longtime fan, who actually saw Uncle Tupelo perform and isn’t just carrying on the myth that has sprouted up around the band’s history, I found myself somewhat disappointed with the pace of the set. Instead of mixing up their songs the band instead chose to come out rocking and then jump into an extended set of their slower tunes. While these are still great songs, the pace prevented the show from building any momentum until just before the encores. They returned twice, to a somewhat laid back crowd, and added another twenty minutes to the show. The show included selections from both Son Volt releases, as well as a few Uncle Tupelo songs. Overall, it was a good show and a welcomed return but a few changes to the setlist could have produced a great show.

The Apples In Stereo opened the show with a half-hour set that seemed to lack any focus at all. The band can play, and seemed to be enjoying themselves, but just weren’t going anywhere.