This is a review of Viva Big Bend - Day 3: Kokernot Field on Saturday, July 28, 2012.
What an opening act! Mike and the Moonpies performed immediately following the Pecos League matchup between the hometown Alpine Cowboys and the visiting Roswell Invaders. In the bottom of the 9th inning, Alpine was down by one run with one out and runners on 1st and 3rd. The batter hit into what should have been an easy double play. But after tagging the runner out at second base, the throw to first sailed high. The Cowboy at third made it easily to Home, winning the game in dramatic fashion.
With a sound system provided by Texas Music Hall of Famer Paul Minor, Mike and the Moonpies took to the fast-assembled stage and kicked off a fantastic set. Their traditional country sound kept the crowd's attention and got some folks up and dancing in the landings. I hadn't seen the Moonpies before and had only heard a few songs online. The band impressed with their tightness. They put on a CD-quality show, without having the luxury of a sound check.
Drummer Kyle Ponder is a machine, his timing relentlessly steady and fixed with Preston Rhone's bass lines. Guitarist Catlin Rutherford and steel player Zach Moulton both blistered through leads on the upbeat tunes, but kept their licks tastefully appropriate to each song. Singer/songwriter Mike Harmeier's got himself a great band, and his songs give the band a solid foundation.
While most of the set included original songs, several from their brand new eponymous EP, the band impressed the crowd with their takes on a couple songs from legends of country music and rock 'n' roll. They blazed through a tight rendition of George Strait's "The Fireman." And to close out the show, they put on a rousing version of The Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down."
The beauty of a music festival like Viva Big Bend is that fans get to see bands they might not otherwise see, in venues where bands might not usually perform. Mike and Moonpies were the tenth inning of the Alpine/Roswell baseball match-up, and they lived up to the drama that unfolded in the bottom of the ninth.