The tray of tequila shots — eight small glasses, joined by a plastic cup brimming with lime slices — materialized at some point.
Another tray would appear at the foot of the stage not long after.
It was eight songs into the Mavericks’ entertaining set Friday at Billy Bob’s Texas before front man Raul Malo took notice of the gift, and quickly distributed the shots among the musicians gathered on stage.
A toast to the thousand or so gathered in the showroom, a toss of the head, tequila down the hatch and into the ebullient Dance the Night Away: The free-floating party was underway, once more.
The Mavericks’ performances are alike in this way — the audience is always joining a celebration already in progress. The good times were in full swing before anyone arrived, and they will keep raging long after the lights have come up.
It is this band’s singular gift, the ability to effortlessly conjure such a sense of fun.
They are, in much the same way as a quick snort of tequila, a tonic for the troubled times in which we find ourselves — an easy, enjoyable means of escaping everything for a few hours.
Malo and his Mavericks brethren have been near-fixtures in North Texas this year, which is good news for fans — Friday’s gig was the band’s third DFW appearance in less than 12 months, leaving aside Malo’s solo turn at the Kessler Theater in August — as that has provided a steady dose of that casual joy. (This concert was the Mavericks’ first Fort Worth performance in two years, after a headlining showcase during the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival.)
Though the audience was frustratingly small, particularly for a Friday night at Billy Bob’s, it more than made up for its size with its enthusiasm, shouting, singing and dancing along (oh, and sending a steady stream of tequila to the stage: “This is gonna be a hell of a show,” Malo cracked as the band lifted yet another round to its lips. “Guess this really will be the last night of the tour.”)
The Mavericks tore into its eclectic, electric catalog with gusto: Back in Your Arms opened up the show, with What a Crying Shame, There Goes My Heart and As Long As There’s Loving Tonight, which built up an impressive, frenetic head of steam, rounding out the set list. Although the band is still touring behind its most recent LP, last year’s Mono, a new live album, All Night Live, Vol. 1, is due out Oct. 14.
It wasn’t all merriment in the Stockyards, however — the band began its encore with a gorgeous reading of Pink Floyd’s Us and Them, an all-too-apt song to hear as Friday slipped into Saturday morning, and the news of Donald Trump’s latest indiscretion ricocheted around the internet. Call it a small dose of reality, emphasizing the value of a good time.
Every party has to end some time, but as with most great get-togethers, it’s extraordinarily difficult to leave a Mavericks concert and step back into the outside world.