Vandoliers have earned a reputation for cathartic, shout-along songs that can all but exorcise demons. The Texas band decimated a crowd with sneering jams like “Sixteen Years” and “Troublemaker” during a humid parking-lot party at SXSW 2019 — back in those heady days when we could gather without fear of a virus that’s now killed 500,000 Americans. If we’re being honest, we probably took such times for granted. The Vandoliers are bold enough to suggest as much in their raucous yet melancholy new song “Every Saturday Night.”
Singer Joshua Fleming spells it out plainly in the chorus: “I took for granted every Saturday night/With my rowdy friends and the love of my life.” His voice is hard-living raspy and it sells the inherent sadness of the song well, as the band — expert in their mix of punk, country, and Tex-Mex — roars behind him. Travis Curry’s fiddle saws evoke all manner of nostalgia, from empty whiskey glasses to long drives listening to the group’s red-dirt peers Turnpike Troubadours. Fleming painfully misses it all. “We should have danced till they turned out the lights,” he keens, his voice tinged with regret.
But the tears are temporary. Despite navigating a deadly Texas ice storm that threatened to derail Vandoliers’ first show in a year, Fleming is optimistic that those SXSW day parties and Friday and Saturday nights in the bars are on their way back. “I do feel like things are going to start happening,” he says. “People will be able to come out of their houses again.”
Until then, “Every Saturday Night” can help fill the void, reconnecting us — at least in our minds — with the community we left behind in the clubs.