Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hank III - Live in Brooklyn

Hank III

There are many artists clamoring for the now-vacant title of Hardest Working Man in Show Business, but my vote goes unquestionably to Hank Williams III. The reason is simple: I've never seen another performer play three completely different (yet equally raucous) sets without taking a break in between. So when his tour pulled in to Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg on the eve of my birthday, I knew I had to be there.

Williams has always been a creative soul with an identity crisis, balancing his love of heavy metal and punk rock with his country pedigree. His approach to expressing these genres is a methodic one: tackle each style, one at a time. Starting off with a tradition country set and a band that included fiddle, banjo, stand-up bass and steel guitar players, Williams took the audience on a musical tour of the American South, churning out both original and classic yarns based on tales from West Virginia, Georgia, Texas, and Tennessee. The most rancor was reserved for the latter, particularly Nashville's Grand Ol' Opry for refusing to grant his grandfather, the country legend Hank Williams, a posthumous reinstatement. [For more info or to sign the online petition, click here.]

Hank III/Hellbilly set

From there, he ramped things up by changing hats (literally) and going into the Hellbilly part of the night with Assjack, bringing out singer Gary Lindsay to help belt out rockers like "Six-Pack of Beer," "Country Heroes" and "Life of Sin." Of note: after many years of circulating official bootlegs, Assjack will finally be releasing their official debut on Curb Records, due out on August 4.

Hank III's Metal/Punk set

It really wouldn't be a Hank III show without a final punk rock set, though at this point most of the crowd had cleared out. Paying particular homage to GG Allin and the Murder Junkies (GG's brother Merle and drummer Dino took the stage for a song), the band went through several hellacious, industrial-strength tracks and teased the audience with riffs on Slayer's "Reigning Blood" and Ministry's "Stigmata." After much sound and fury—not to mention equal parts spilled beer and blood—the show came to a frenzied, sweaty end.

Shades of GG Allin

For more photos, check out the gallery here.

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