Music » Critics' Picks

James McMurtry/Bottle Rockets

8 p.m. Saturday, March 26. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard.

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The only thing surprising about a St. Louis date with James McMurtry and the Bottle Rockets is that it didn't happen sooner. McMurtry has done for Texas and Oklahoma what the Bottle Rockets has done for Missouri. McMurtry's "Choctaw Bingo" and "Cheney's Toy" are the epic equivalents of the Bottle Rockets' "Radar Gun" and "Wave That Flag." Both McMurtry and the Bottle Rockets understand the pathologies of working-class and sub-working-class culture, and both use a hard Crazy Horse-and Rolling Stones-influenced form of rock & roll as a lens to show any listener that his or her own pathologies aren't so different. Onstage, the Austin and St. Louis legends whip their guitars into a maelstrom that's as unforgiving as it is exhilarating.

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