The Pretty Reckless Live at Emo’s Austin (Concert Review)

The Pretty Reckless Emos AustinBack in April, I penned a “pretty” extensive review of an album that dropped this past March, Going To Hell, which is still one of my favorites of the year.  Coincidentally, that review can be found its glorious entirety here.  Since then I have been keeping a close eye on Taylor Momsen from her authoring of critical reviews on each episode of the final season of HBO’s True Blood on popcrush.com to her beach, tie-dye infused music video for the tune “Messed Up World (F’d Up World)” that lacks that now infamous anchored cross that adorns her body (and points down to her you know what) in the video for “Heaven Knows,” gunfire and cigarettes, but on the plus side it does have one helluva classic hot rod red Mustang convertible in it.  I don’t know about you, but that’s sexy enough for me.  And quite honestly, no opening paragraph on a story about Taylor’s band, The Pretty Reckless, would ever be complete without mentioning my never-ending love and affinity for track number four, the haunting “House on a Hill.”  I swear I can workout and write non-stop to that track on a continuous loop, but I digress.

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So back in my review last March I pretty much begged and pleaded for Taylor to bring her musical act to Austin, TX and I guess she read that as she not only delivered and fulfilled my wish last night with her band’s performance at Emo’s on E. Riverside Dr., but she also did me a solid by promoting the Amazon link to the mp3 version of her album, Going To Hell, that was embedded within my review, which resulted in some nice commission for the month.  So thank you very much, Taylor!  As I promised, I owe you a part in one of my movies.  Don’t worry, I have you in consideration for a few different roles.  We’ll talk soon enough about all that movie mumbo jumbo, but for now let’s talk The Pretty Reckless live and kicking at Emo’s in Austin, TX this past Friday evening, September 26th, which I was fortunate enough to score some media credentials to cover the rocking event in all its glory.  As Jefferson Starship once sang, “we built this city on rock and roll,” and if The Pretty Reckless have anything to say about it Austin, TX can rest easy on its laurels as the live music capital of the world.

The Pretty Reckless Emos Austin 002Now I never frequented the Austin area music club Emo’s before, but I must admit, I like what I saw.  It was an intimate atmosphere, much akin to my fond memories of The Odeon back home in Cleveland, OH, with plenty of space and best of all it was south of downtown, which essentially means we didn’t have to deal with downtown Austin traffic and partygoers.  That was an instant plus before even walking into the concert joint.  We arrived to see Adelita’s Way warming up the crowd before The Pretty Reckless promptly took the stage as planned at 11 PM sharp.  You got to love these small venues as they stick to a schedule, not like seeing Madonna and waiting 3 hours for her to eventually show up, but I digress.  Prior to Adelita’s Way’s performance, Falling thru April got things started.  So back to The Pretty Reckless, you know the band we’re all here to reminisce and talk about.  They took the stage cloaked under darkness to the ringing of AC/DC’s “Hell Bells.”  While that seems kind of appropriate it was a bit awkward since the band opened up with “Follow Me Down,” and not the energy infused “Going to Hell.”  But thinking back, you don’t want to blow your wad right away, right?  Haha!  I’m just kidding.  “Follow Me Down” is a rocking tune once it kicks into the chorus so I was happy with the band’s first choice.

Before I go any farther into this review I had a thought.  How cool would it be to see all the songs The Pretty Reckless performed Friday night?  I know if I was reading this I would want to know.  So let’s take a closer look at this 12-song set that saw the band commandeering the stage for nearly 90 minutes.  Below you’ll find the set list in its entirety with the songs listed in the order they were performed.

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  1. “Follow Me Down “
  2. “Since You’re Gone”
  3. “Sweet Things”
  4. “Miss Nothing”
  5. “Cold Blooded”
  6. “Dear Sister”
  7. “Absolution”
  8. “Why’d You Bring a Shotgun to the Party”
  9. “Make Me Wanna Die”
  10. “Heaven Knows”
  11. “Going to Hell”


  1. F’d Up World


The Pretty Reckless Emos AustinI’m a big fan of “Follow Me Down” because it shows off Taylor’s vocal strengths as she covers the verses in a gentle folk voice and quickly switches it up to a Courtney Love-like growl demonstrating that she’s a force to be reckoned with and that she really means business during the electric choruses.  And before we go on I must admit something.  I was kind of scared of this show.  Like I said up above, I’m a huge fan of their sophomore album Going To Hell, but I was worried how well Taylor’s voice would hold up and translate live.  I have watched some YouTube performances before and she was quite raspy.  However, my fears were quickly relinquished once I heard Momsen carry this first song with her incredible pipes.  She has the voice of an angel with a little bit of Cobain living inside her.  How can you not love that combination?  Verse, chorus, verse, right?  Hell yeah!  The next song, however, was kind of lackluster for me, but mostly in part because I’m just not a fan of their freshman album, Light Me Up, which this one lives on.  On the flip side, I was all about their next song, “Sweet Things.”  This track is my second favorite off Going to Hell for many reasons, too many to list here, but mostly because of the dual part harmony during the too few choruses with guitarist Ben Phillips, which I’m pleased to report sounded just as awesome live as they do on the record.  Bonus!

The Pretty Reckless Emos AustinThe next two tunes were really quite lackluster for me, but again that’s because the former is found on Light Me Up, which I just can’t get into with the exception of 3 really good songs to be found on it, “Zombie,” “Just Tonight” and “Make Me Wanna Die” and the latter one found on the Hit Me Like A Man EP.  I am honestly not familiar with “Miss Nothing” and “Cold Blooded,” so I was not able to sing along with them and I killed time by checking the pictures taken on my camera during the first two songs.  As soon as the band started playing the first few chords of “Dear Sister,” which Taylor said was about someone in the audience I heard this guy standing behind me grumbling that he could not believe they are wasting time playing one of the weakest tracks on Going to Hell.  I’m sorry Taylor and gang, but I have to agree with him.  I would have much rather heard the beautiful “Waiting For A Friend,” which I have fallen in love with just recently while preparing myself for this upcoming show.  In my opinion, since Emo’s wasn’t packed, if I was The Pretty Reckless I would be playing the most hard rocking and best tunes on my album to gain as many new fans as possible.  The problem is, I would “pretty” much go out on a limb and say everyone in attendance Friday night were fans already.  And not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just really want the best for The Pretty Reckless and that means playing to the largest audiences as possible, but once again, I digress.  What do you say we talk about the remainder of the setlist, which especially rocks compared to the weaker first half?

The Pretty Reckless Emos AustinAlthough I kind of think Taylor messed around too much with her crooning on “Absolution,” another favorite track of mine as discussed in my album review here, there’s no doubt that the band turned things around for me here as one song after another they mesmerized the audience and had them all under their control.  Taylor could have barked any ridiculous order and the groves of fans would have done her bidding.  Taylor had “Why’d You Bring a Shotgun to the Party” choreographed perfectly with the appropriate loaded gun hand signatures, but it was “Make Me Wanna Die” that literally had the place jumping and screaming along.  It’s such a great track and at the same time such a shame the rest of their freshman album is not at that song’s caliber, but I digress once again.  They quickly moved into “Heaven Knows,” which despite the lack of the children chorus line and Taylor’s unrobing that transpires in the track’s music video was very much a crowd pleaser.  And then came the title track “Going to Hell” and the place went absolute ape sh1t nuts.  For the first time all night the audience was going crazy and one crazed male fan was even self-motivated  to charge the stage twice, not with the approval of the band though of course.  The rest was history as the band returned to the stage to play their newest single, “F’d Up World,” as the show’s encore closer.  And that…ladies and gentlemen…was all she wrote.

 Before we depart I have a few observations that I want to make sure I pass along with some final words of wisdom and whatnot.  While I enjoyed myself immensely at the show and really like what I heard, I also want you to know that seeing The Pretty Reckless live is “pretty” much a no thrill experience in the stage show department.  In fact a stage show is pretty much non-existent.  Taylor talked to the audience a few times and lost herself in a some gypsy-like sexual dance movements here and there, but she’s no Shakira in the erotic department.  I’m sorry for saying that Taylor.  Seeing The Pretty Reckless live is like seeing your best friend’s rock band play out at the local pub with a basic light show in tow.  Now that’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with it, but I hope when the band moves up the charts, maybe with their next studio album, and rides the waves of rising fame that they develop some kind of a stage show.  I know that they don’t have a huge budget like that of Rob Zombie and his traveling freak show entourage he tours with, but there’s nothing wrong with having fun on stage and being more interactive with the audience.  Seriously, that and not playing my favorite Pretty Reckless track, “House on a Hill,” are my only two complaints.  All in all, Friday night was a brief, but rocking good time.  Everything just sounded rich and full, and when we’re talking about music, that’s never a bad thing.  Maybe Taylor can shake it up a bit with some sexier, hypnotic moves, more revealing clothes (like in her music videos) and push her hair out of her eyes from time-to-time, but there’s no denying that she and The Pretty Reckless are one of my favorite bands of current times and their no thrill performance at Emo’s this past Friday night “pretty” much solidified that they’re the real thing in my opinion, not a product of studio magic.  I’m looking forward with much anticipation to their next body of work and of course having Taylor in mine, with her name in lights as the billed leading lady.  Until then…rock on!

Rock Out To

The Pretty Reckless

Going to Hell 

on MP3 Today!

The Pretty Reckless Emos Austin


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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