In the past decade, Thanksgiving has promised two things. One being the obvious turkey dinner we all love, and the other being a Mile 8 show at Third and Lindsley. This annual tradition always proves to be a good way to work off that huge meal and have a good time, and with the now defunct band just getting together for this night, it was a little more special.
They started off with a couple of their recent quick hitters, "Flier" and "Fabulous Evening", and then launched into a crowd favorite epic "Fog Juice", which peaked early and often squashing the abundance of tryptophan. These three songs featured lead guitarist Randy Boen on a Les Paul, something he'd never done before, and seemed only to be doing it out of some sort of phantom obligation to a longtime fan. It did sound really good, but with a snide remark that only guitar enthusiasts would understand, he switched back to his trademark blue Strat. The rest of the first set included some old Mile 8 jam classics, with "Lesson To Be Learned", the title track from their latest record "Crazy Things" with a classic "Curbert Knolding" drum solo, and "Button" with a guest appearance from a harmonica player who reeked of Nashville self love and an awkward mid-jam tease of "Midnight Rider". Closing the first set with Jacko's "Starting Something" left the already amped crowd ready for a raging second set, and also showcased their ability to nail even the most off the wall cover tunes.
After an almost unbearable trivia contest and an apology from Sax player Adam Livingston for accidentally assaulting a female fan, the second set took off featuring original bass player Neil Vance as well as some really old selections from his era including "Breaking You" and "Something Said". Another highlight of this section was "Pogo Stick", spotlighting the vocal stylings of returning original rhythm guitarist Caleb Hickman, who joined the band all night and could be described as a mix between Dickie Betts and Slash. It was good to see this line-up back together, even if the bass work wasn't quite as impressive. Moving on in the set with most current line-up including Timmy Cooper on keys and Russell Wright on bass, they rolled through more old favorites like "Afraid to Fall", and newer ones such as "Gas Station Dinner" and "Ayo Ayo", involving the crowd in the party-style chorus. And what Mile 8 Thanksgiving bash would be complete without their own original Christmas carol "Naked Christmas"? It was great to finally see this song performed without some drunk jack-ass rushing the stage and taking his clothes off. A great version of The Beatles' "Dig a Pony" started of a run of songs that would finish off the night with a huge bang including the Goonies homage "Chester Copperpot", a version of "Alien" with alternate lyrics about E.T. and an "Elliot" chorus, and their biggest show stopper "Laugh On". The encore selection of Tool's "Sober" was another one from left field, but the crowd seemed to love it and it was another reminder of good times of Mile 8 past.
For a band who officially broke up three years ago, these guys are still an undeniable force. With Lightning 100 featuring them on "Local Lightning" all week and a pretty big crowd on a holiday weeknight, the question I heard most of the night was "why aren't they still together?" Their chemistry is unquestionable, whether it's the dueling guitar lines between Caleb and Randy, the spot on vocal harmonies, or the drum work between drummer Curt Redding and percussionist Bobby Knowles, who's parts actually contribute immensely to the band's overall sound. There's a reason why most of these names may sound familiar, as most of these guys are in another, if not several other bands around town, proving that they are some of the best musicians around. I guess Mile 8 just isn't meant to be, but as long as they keep either saying "farewell" or "reuniting" every year or two, people will "come to get down".