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Last Night: Hank III and Assjack at Culture Room, August 31

Hank III and Assjack
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The review:

"Not everybody likes us, but we drive some folks wild." So sang Hank III Tuesday night at Culture Room. His voice alternated between a drawn-out country twang reminiscent of his granddaddy's and a fierce punk-rock growl. He

played nonstop for nearly three hours, swapping out his acoustic guitar

for an electric one at the start of the second set, more than an hour

and a half into the show. The room was packed and sweaty by the time Hank III busted out his

crowd-pleasing anti-establishment country anthem "Dick in Dixie," which

consists of the following lines: "I'm here to put the dick in Dixie and

the cunt back in country -- 'cause the kind of music I hear nowadays is a

bunch of fuckin' shit to me."

And his special brand of Hellbilly rock

inspired more moshing from the volatile crowd -- a mix of pierced punks

and cowboy-hat-clad rednecks -- than you'd witness at an average death-metal concert. More than one woman with multiple facial piercings

skank-danced, crowd-surfed, dabbled in the mosh pit, and shrieked

adoringly for Hank -- though many adoringly referred to him by his first

name, Shelton. Meanwhile, shirtless muscleheads rampaged violently in a

spray of sweat and spilling beer. During a particularly intense

instrumental, the mosh pit may have dissolved into an actual fistfight

that happened to resolve itself by the end of the song.

Onstage, amid the hot flashing lights, Hank and his band -- bad-ass dudes playing the banjo, steel guitar, standup bass, superfast fiddle, and drums -- cranked out tunes about drinking moonshine, six-packs of beer, being "low down," and general outlaw-country rebelliousness. In a part of the show Hank called "paying respects," the band kicked off an old David Allan Coe song ("Longhaired Redneck") that promptly morphed into a Hank Williams Jr. song ("If You Don't Like Hank Williams") -- all played to the tune of Johnny Cash's "Ghost Riders in the Sky." Then, he and a few of his bandmates let down their long, greasy hair, swapped out their cowboy hats for black caps, and began shredding out a set of fast-paced, angry punk songs. The growling vocals were augmented by an additional vocalist -- a lithe, squirrelly guy who bobbed his head with unbridled ferocity and added an impressive array of screams, shouts, and drawn-out moans to complement Hank's twang.

At one point, near the end of the country set, he gave the crowd a quick history lesson. "Most of y'all probably think Hiram Hank Williams is a member of the Grand Ol' Opry in Nashville, Tennessee," Hank III told the audience. "Well, he's not! Did he fuck up? Yes. But did they tell him he'd have the chance to make it right? Yes, they did, but he died before he could." Then from the thrashing crowd rose a single hand holding a single hand-rolled cigarette that smelled kind of funny. As the hand waived over the front of the stage, Hank bent down midriff and took a deep drag. Then he blew a cloud of smoke over the crowd, and the entire venue went crazy. True: Not everybody likes Hank III, but he definitely does drive some folks wild.

Critic's Notebook

Better than: Gettin' pure drunk in that Mississippi mud.

Personal bias: Cowboy hats are a very powerful aphrodisiac.

Random detail: A lot of the people at this concert looked/smelled sorta homeless.

By the way: The aroma of marijuana wafting through Culture Room provided a pleasant but all-too-sporadic relief from the heavy stench of B.O.

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Tara Nieuwesteeg

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