Two Cow Garage and the power of youth and volume.
You don’t get many second chances in life. Maybe you didn’t get to see the Who in 1965, or the Jam in 1977, or the Replacements in 1985, or Nirvana in 1990. No, you missed all the greats on their way up and now what can you do? Don’t let it happen again.
There are those bands out there who drive on despite the weather (both literally in terms of wind, rain and snow and figuratively in terms of popular trends and industry fancy). In fact, THEY are driven. They continue on through the shit of being an unknown band because they can’t do anything else. They can no sooner stop playing and touring than you or I can get up for work in the morning and not curse the alarm clock for ruining a perfectly good day’s night. The propulsion to play is what powers their lungs to breath and their minds to think. It can not be turned off and it likely is ruining their lives in any respectable manner. But it’s who they are and what they do.
I first saw Two Cow Garage a year and a half ago. I am a musician in Chicago and was told I was sharing a bill with a scruffy band from Ohio. Scruffy was right. Two Cow looks like a band who is on the road 200 days a year, and that’s because they are. When you’re a musician, It’s never a good thing to be blown off the stage. When you’re an audience member, it is the greatest thing in the world to be blown out of your mind. I had both the first night I saw Two Cow Garage. I’ve since played 11 or 12 shows with them and had the same experience every single time. Think about that. This rag tag three-piece has blown my mind that many times and every one of those times thanked ME at the end of the night.
These are three twenty-somethings in a van driving from town to town through snow storms, and broken fan belts, and fast food, and fraternity villages—and all without tour support. And every show is drenched in sweat, and volume, and gratitude. There’s no indie attitude from three nice kids from the midwest who are genuinely happy to see anyone show up for their set. You can’t help but walk away with a smile as you rub the blood out of your ears.
Maybe you can attribute their attitude and exuberance to their youth. Yes, maybe. And that can’t possibly translate to record. But it can. See, the band is on tour (again) in support of their new album, The Wall Against Our Back, produced by Slobberbone’s Brent Best. Best is another fella who knows a thing or two about boisterous rock. He also knows a thing or two about Two Cow Garage and their strengths. They’ve toured together and he knows that the energy of their live show is what carries the band and the audience. He also injects a slight bit of sophistication in the production that adds to the tension and tenderness of songs like “Brand New July” that should be playing on the stereo of every brokenhearted freshman in America. It is the bitter sweet sentimentality that shit bands like Hoobastank try so pathetically to capture except Two Cow’s singer, Micah Schnabel, has a voice that tears yours heart out instead of your integrity.
While Two Cow’s first CD, Please Turn the Gas Back On is a fine album with great songs, it lacked abandon—like so many first albums from truly great live acts. Best was able to better get down the chemistry and chaos of Two Cow’s live set. It’s almost there. Those of us who have already seen the band live can see Micah’s overblown “Rock God” stance in the guitar solos. We can see bassist Shane Sweeney lean into his babyfaced cohort as they bash through “My Concern.” If you listen closely, you can hear Dustin Harigle’s sticks break on “If This is Home.” Yes, there are similarities to Uncle Tupelo and Steve Earle, but what better influences can a young band have? If Jay Farrar and Earle are the architects of this band, then it will stand for 1,000 years.
But as good as the album is, to see this band live to love them. So I implore you to see them. They are likely playing in your neck of the woods…a few times…again. Don’t be the guy five years from now saying, “there was a time…” That time is now.
You can download mp3s from the new album from Two Cow’s website.