Saturday night, Cain’s Ballroom and every look imaginable. What do these three things have in common? 1 show that was broken down into actually about 4 shows.
Hank III (Hank Williams the 3rd) brought his unique take on the music world to Tulsa with special guest Those Poor Bastards. If you are into classic country music, there was something for you, if you are into punk rock, there was something for you, if you are into what I would call "gutter-growl speed metal" there was something for you also. In a show that spanned so much music genre it was truly entertaining and absurd at the same time.
I had never seen Hank III before and had heard several things about the attitude and swagger he brings to shows, as well as boat loads of raw talent.
Those Poor Bastards, a 2 piece Gothic country band, out of all places Madison, Wisconsin. How on earth did these northern Yankees get so entrenched in southern sound and heartache? TPS has a sound that pulls at your inner core and makes you feel downtrodden and sad but at the same time finding some sort of hope. It was the weirdest feeling I had ever felt. Like a car wreck that may or may not have had a fatality, it was something that you wanted to see what came next, but at the same time felt kind of bad for getting involved in. Opening with the song, "Bright Side" a song about anything but was a good indicator of the kind of night it was going to be. Then again, isn’t that really what old school country music is all about? Sorrow, pain and the whole darn thing. These guys were plenty entertaining and in true showmanship style not even a guitar issue could keep the show from going on. With what Lonesome Wyatt (lead singer, guitar) called a "horrible skeleton" on-stage to help with "Abomination" his guitar stopped working, causing them to carry on sans guitar. Bastards is a band that should not be overlooked if you have a chance to check them out or pick their music up. You will be glad you did.
Looking at the audience of this particular show was something of a sight in itself. You had bikers, red-necks, kids, pin-up girls, average joes, old guys, short guys and a few people in wheel chairs. Just a very eclectic blend of people, but it really was what you would expect from a show of this caliber.
Hank III and band slowly come onto the stage and get set for 3 hours of music, stories, and antics that would have a full house at the Cain’s playing to ever word, chord, lyric like it was a barn dance in some deserted field. Hank is really on top of his game singing old country music with great twang and storytelling in the lyrics. From drinking, to smoking, to loving, to driving, this third generation talent covers all bases. Not only does he do some very catchy anthem songs that has the people singing along, but he takes the time in each of his shows to do what he calls "The Time of Respect." This is a portion of the show that he does some fantastic cover songs of his country heroes. Songs by grandad, Hank Williams Sr. and Johnny Cash. This included a great rendition of "Cocaine Blues." At one point he stopped teh show to make mention of the fact that Hank Sr. had been tossed out of the Grand Ole Opry and that is was time to bring him back into the fold of the "First Church of Country Music" only to be told by the president of the Opry that he would never "reinstate a dead guy’. This lead to the song, "The Grand Ole Opry Ain’t so Grand Anymore" complete with a big middle finger to the establishment of country music and the likes.
After about an hour of this classic set, it was time to amp it up a notch, Hank trades his acoustic guitar for a black electric and begins the second third of his show. The concert quickly shifts gears into a punk rock show. Did I just miss something? It is now Hellbilly. The second of alternative groups. Hank’s ability to switch between musical stylings is uncanny. To go from deep southern twangy country to a punk sound that could rival any band out right now was nothing short of amazing. Again in a set that lasted close to an hour he took the crowd on a musical journey that started out slow and had them in a frenzy by the time he stated, "We will be back in 5 minutes to conclude the show with AssJack!"
Yes, we were not done yet. What was interesting about this part of the concert is the way the venue cleared out and had the hardcore fans left at the barricade. This is the point in the show that goes from obscure to complete mayhem. Gary Lindsey, lead singer, takes the show toward a new level of chaos that could easily end in catastrophe at any time. His leaping into the small but substantial crowd is sketchy, not to mention his wrapping of the mic lead around his neck and pseudo strangling himself. I had to keep thinking to myself this guy is about to pass out at any time. Not so, finished the show with energy to spare.
Another stand out of this show was that Hank made sure to thank the crowd repeatedly for supporting live music and stated that this is what it is all about, not about awards or number one records or CMT videos but about the music and the fans. I could not agree more. That is how is started and that is how it all ends. With the music.
This is one of those shows that you should not miss if you have the chance to see it. Trust me on this one.
Photos: Kevin Pyle