This is a very big year for the Josh Abbott Band. The “Where’s the Party” tour is its largest to date, attracting new fans at every stop. The day after premiering the new single “Amnesia” on Sirius XM radio, the Texas band returned to Joe’s Bar in Chicago. The warehouse- sized venue, named the 2015 “Nightclub of the Year” by the Academy of Country Music, was packed to the rafters with country, Americana, and rock fans ready for a good time. The headliners kicked off the hot summer night with “All of a Sudden” from 2010’s breakthrough album She’s Like Texas. Then it treated the crowd in the country’s third largest city to a glimpse of a different life in “I’ll Sing About Mine” from the 2012 follow-up album Small Town Family Dream.
Josh Abbott started the band in 2006 with several fraternity brothers at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. He and banjo player Austin Davis are now joined by fiddler and guitarist Preston Wait, bassist James Hertless, guitarist Caleb Keeter, and drummer Edward Villanueva with a new keyboard player filling out the roster on tour. The band’s remarkable ability to draw fans from places of all sizes and across music genres is due to incredible musicianship and fine songwriting. Abbott and his bandmates also connect with audiences because they haven’t forgotten their roots.
“I want to dedicate this song to all the college students in the room,” Abbott said. “And here in Chicago, all who wish they were back in college. You hate your jobs!”
The crowd heartily agreed, and cheered loudly as the band began “Tuesday Night” from the 2014 EP of the same name. Talented and tight as a unit, solo-filled songs throughout the show allowed the musicians to further display their amazing skills. Fiddle-player Wait went even further, playing the intro to Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” before the band segued into “My Texas.” Banjo and guitar interplay on “I Just Wanna Love You” and the new single “Amnesia” also generated enthusiastic responses.
Later in the set, Josh Abbott welcomed new country/bluegrass artist Carly Pearce for a tender duet on “Wasn’t That Drunk.” The love song is one of 15 tracks on the intimate, relationship-themed album Front Row Seat due out on November 6. Pearce was the perfect fill-in for original vocalist Kacey Musgraves on the band’s “Oh, Tonight,” and the she left the crowd primed and ready for country radio hit “Touch” which closed the set.
The Josh Abbott Band returned for an encore after chants of “one more song,” and invited departing tour manager Cody Kelley onstage before dedicating “Matagorda Bay” to him. The Jimmy Buffet inspired song was followed by the appropriately titled “Live It While You Got It.” Then the band celebrated the long road to the big time, playing the 2008 debut single “Taste” at the end of the high energy, two-hour show.