Hank Williams III w/The Damn Band/Assjack
Hometown: Nashville, Tn.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
La Zona Rosa
also: The Murder Junkies
Hank Williams III and his music are simply incredible. Were it not for his outspokeness and general dislike for the mainstream music industry, he could easily be filling stadiums with slick overproduced pablum either for Nashville with his country roots, or in L.A. with his rock and roll. Luckily Hank would rather present them both with a big "fuck you" and play his music the way he wants to, genres and big business be damned. Hank is one of the freshest voices in music and to hear him sanitized and packaged would be tragic. The last thing he needs is to be "molded" into someone else's perceived image to fit a genre.
It was a strange and varied crowd, even by Austin's "keep it weird" standards, that showed up to welcome Hank back to Austin. Country folk, city folk, punk folk, and redneck folk, it made for an odd mix for a musician who is known for standing genre labels on their end. Playing a full set at La Zona Rosa, rather than the short set he played at SXSW 2006 over at Antones, Hank was on stage for at least 2 and a half hours.
Opening with an hour of country and bluegrass with a mix so sweet it sounded just like his CDs, this part of the show would rack them in at any honky tonk in Texas. He played most of the new album, starting with the title track "Straight to Hell" and blew through other tracks like "Drinkin & Smokin" and "Pills I Took," barely slowing it down for "Country Heros." He covered at least one Johnny Cash song, and used other songs from his first album to fill in. Backed up by That Damn Band with pedal steel, standup bass, fiddle, and drums, this was a smoking set of bluegrass and old time country. Hank's voice is spookily similar to his grandfather's, so much so that when he covers his grandpa's work, it's virtually indistinguishable.
After an hour of fine country music in which Hank seemed to be channeling his grandfather's spirit, the band began to transition from being That Damn Band into Assjack, and for 20 minutes we were treated to a slice of southern fried rock & roll guaranteed to make any "freebird" yellin redneck rockers in the audience proud of their heritage.
When the morphing was completed we were left with a stripped down 4 peice punk/thrash band that would have felt right at home at any skate ditch in Santa Monica. The band even covered Black Flag's "No Values." Incredibly the punk extravaganza lasted an hour, and when it was over the band and the crowd were bleeding, sopping wet, and exhausted. The only person who seemed to still have energy left was Hank.
If you want to see one of the most talented andmost controversial performers of our day, one your parents wouldn't have let you listen too, this is the man to see. To see more of Hank check out the photos frm his show in our Photo Gallery
Opening for Hank was the punk band The Murder Junkies fronted by singer Jeff Clayton of Anti-Seen. The last backing band of the late G.G.Allin, famed more for his on-stage antics than his musical talents, the band continues Allin's self-destructive traditions, the highpoint being Clayton's ramming a chunk of broken glass into his forehead until he had a nice stream of blood flying into the mosh pit. The title of one of their songs probably sums up their set best "Raw, Brutal, Rough & Bloody."
Watch for my next show review, Snow Patrol at Stubbs Bar-B-Q, on Monday.