While seemingly everyone in the Tahoe area was busy covering their bike in purple fur, gathering glow sticks and hoarding every water receptacle in the nation while getting ready for the plague that is Burning Man, a few of the “sane” people left that wanted to have a rockin’ good time headed down the Reno to catch the legend that is Hank III.
For the uninitiated, Hank III, or Shelton Hank Williams III, is the direct descendent of Country Music’s original outlaw, his grandfather, Hank Williams. While his father, Hank Jr., is a pretty hit and miss on the music side of things, erring on the side of miss, and an idiot behind the music, Hank III has kept the spirit and the music of his grandfather alive, while adding his own modern, outlaw twist.
Hank III’s music is a melting pot of seemingly unmixable genres. Classic country, punk rock, rockabilly and heavy metal are just a sampling of what III puts out, and he somehow nails it every time. Reno was no exception and the fans came out in droves to the sold out show on the famed downtown strip.
Just as Hank III’s music is a blend of styles, his fans follow suit. It’s likely that nowhere else will you see real cowboys, skaters, punks, crusty metalheads, bikers, Hells Angels, skaters and more crammed into one space, all drinking the same beer and havin’ a good ol’ time. Hank brought the good times and good music that just about everyone could enjoy, granted you weren’t at home gluing sequins on your boots in anticipation of the dust cloud womp fest at The Playa.
Hank III’s show did not disappoint one bit. He started out with his more traditional country, transitioned into the harder, but still country, country, and then proceeded to shut the house down with his metal, loosing a few Stetson wearing fans to the backdoor in the process, but obviously not giving a shit about anything but having a good time on his own terms, audience be damned. His band, especially for the country part of his show, could not of been tighter. With Hank leading the band on guitar and vocals, the real stars of the show were left and right of center stage on the standup bass, fiddle, banjo and steel guitar. It’s not often you get you see such a wide array of instruments being played in both the classic style on some songs and somehow making the new stuff sound even better at the same time. The band really gives off the feeling that Hank Sr. must have presented way back when.
Blasting the country portion into the back wall and some of the fans with it, one of Hank’s newer bands, Attention Deficit Domination, or ADD, took to the stage pounding the crowd with their cover of Sleep’s legendary stoner doom song, “Dopesmoker.” After the homage to Sleep, the pioneers and kings of the genre, ADD went on to explode on stage with slow, creeping, loud chords and limited vocals set to the fitting backdrop of old B horror and sci-fi movies. After ADD came the 3 Bar Ranch, Williams’ final group of the night. 3 Bar comes out swinging in full battle gear. With bandanas over their faces, Mad Maxesque armor draped over their shoulders and tattered cowboy hats on their heads, they look like a mix of Gwar and Jesse James’ train robbing gang, and sound no less menacing. While their mix of metal and authentic auctioneer cattle calling may be a little hard on the ears at times, no one can deny it’s power.
With the crowd dwindling, or being forced out by the noise, we pounded what was left of our beers and made our way of the Knitting Factory for the night. Everyone’s ears ringing from the complete onslaught of music, the crowds dispersed out into the already wild streets of Reno, ready for whatever was next in the city that never sleeps. Hank III is an amazing live show and anyone doubting that has to check it out, no matter what you think of country music or otherwise, guys and gals old and young are guaranteed to have a good time, for at least part of the show if not the whole thing. Hank III is a talented musician that has followed in the footsteps of his legendary family but is not afraid to branch off and take it his own way.
Long live the Outlaws!