Hank 3 is a musical maniac. Last Thursday night at the 930 club he played over three and a half hours of music spanning four genres, with only one five-minute break. Hank 3 and his band tore the roof off of the club with their breakneck paced country and Hellbilly sets, and then he and his drummer charged on with the progressively darker and weirder sludge/doom/metal and Cattlecore sets, ending the show after midnight.
With no opening act, Hank 3 and his crew of outlaws started off the night right on time, playing their rowdy, rough-and-tumble style of country music to a pretty full club. The audience was ready to get down, and band led the way on stage, beginning with the super-charged “Straight To Hell.” The song, a boot-stompin’, barroom sing-along stirred the crowd up and showcased the virtuosic playing of fiddle player Adam McOwen. The pace never really slowed down for the next hour and a half (or more), as they charged through twenty-six songs in the country set.
Hank 3 and his band played the hell out of their instruments, and kept the crowd swaying, stomping, moshing, shaking their fists, and spilling their beers. A few highlights of the country set included “Rebel Within,” the cajun-flavored “Mississippi Mud,” the honky-tonkin’ “Gutter Town,” and the fast and crunchy, bass-heavy tribute to Hank’s dog, “Trooper’s Holler.” Hank 3’s dark sense of humor shone through in the song “Pills I Took.” Towards the end of the country set Hank 3 invited Dave Sherman, the singer for the doom metal band Earthride, onstage. He joined the band to sing the spanish-tinged “Ghost to a Ghost,” another high point in the set.
About twenty-seven songs into the night Hank 3 strapped on an electric guitar and introduced the Hellbilly portion of the show. That consisted of about twenty-some minutes of faster, louder, punker, screamier country-flavored tunes.
After the Hellbilly set, Hank 3 announced a five-minute break (his only stop for breath of the whole night), at which point he and his band exited the stage, and about half the crowd exited the club.
Five minutes later Hank 3 came back on stage, along with just his drummer. The stage was dark, except for a couple green lights pointed on Hank’s guitar, so you could just see his silhouette- his cowboy hat now off, revealing long strands of hair hanging down over his face. Behind the stage a video screen had appeared, and a movie played silently while Hank 3 and his drummer launched into the dark, doomy, plodding sludge metal of the next hour-plus, which was his Attention Deficit Domination set.
While I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a fan of metal, I am a fan of noise. Hank 3’s stoner-doom rock created an awesome wall of fuzzy, crunchy noise, blanketing the club with jarring waves of sound. Dark, trudging, spooky, with few vocals, it was weird, but it worked. After over an hour of sonic assalt, with only about a quarter of the audience left, at most, Hank 3 geared up for his final set, from arguably the strangest of the four CDs he released last fall- 3 Bar Ranch Cattle Callin’. In this album he developed his own genre, which he calls Cattlecore. It’s a combination of hardcore metal guitar (more sonic assault) with auctioneer “Cattle callin'” vocals. The delineation from the ADD set to this one was slight, and involved the addition of another guitarist. Hank 3 had an interesting wardrobe change, onstage (in the near dark), which involved covering his head with something akin to an executioner face/head cover, then a bandana over the lower half of his face, what looked like leather armor on his shoulders, and a cowboy hat on top. The second guitarist was similarly clothed/masked, and the combination, along with the bizzarro Cattlecore sound made for good nighmare fodder.
At the end of his epic three-hours and forty-some-minute set Hank 3 still appeared tireless, and after shedding his leather armor and mask and donning a sweatshirt and cap he hopped off the stage, not missing a beat, and went to talk to his fans. I don’t know how he does it, but he brings such energy and passion to everything he does, is relentlessly hard-working, and deserves every bit of success that comes his way. Rock on, Hank!