It’s probably going to be pretty cold in Tacoma—and temperature-controlled in the Tacoma Dome—on the night of Thursday, Feb. 1. That’s too bad, because the Turnpike Troubadours should really only be witnessed at a venue where it’s excruciatingly humid and at least 90 degrees outside (or, hell, inside).
At such a gig, the mosquitoes must feel like they’re feasting at Canlis for free, as the entire audience is loaded up on lager and loin, with sweat pooling in that pocket where the back fat meets the bone. The Troubadours play the opening bars of “The Bird Hunters,” their lanky, handsome, unpredictable lead singer Evan Felker crooning smoothly like a flatland Fogelberg, set in stark contrast to the muscular lyrics and volcanic electro-twang of the crack band behind him. Furthermore, the Oklahoma road warriors—who work an audience into a lather like perhaps no other act in the Americana genre—should be allowed to play well past last call.
That’s not going to happen on Feb. 1, because the Troubadours will be opening for Miranda Lambert, where they’ll likely be restricted to about 45 minutes of stage time, max. That a Nashville star like Lambert has booked the Troubadours to support her provides a clue as to where the native Texan is headed these days: back to the Lone Star State. She lives there now, and her phenomenal 2016 double album, The Weight of These Wings, substitutes red-dirt rawness for the sheen of Music Row.
It could be credibly argued that Weight of These Wings was the best country or Americana album of 2016. For 2017, that distinction might well belong to the Troubadours’ A Long Way From Your Heart. It’s a crying shame, then, that the T-Dome’s floor won’t be cleared of seats to make way for tents and kegs, as this is the sort of show that should go on forever, as though it’s the last dang party at the moon tower.
With John Pardi, 7 p.m.