Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Concert Review: Hank3 at the Marquee Theatre, 9/19/2011

Hank3 performs live at Marquee Theatre on 9/19/2011
Seeing Hank3 live these days is like a test of endurance. At his show last night at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe, Hank3 took the stage at 8:30 p.m. to a near-capacity crowd and didn't finish up until nearly three and a half hours later, after roughly two-thirds of the audience had called it a night.

It's hard to fault anyone for leaving. It was a Monday night after all, with another long work week barely underway. But those who stuck around were treated to the full spectrum of what Hank3 has to offer -- from classic country to auctioneer-laced speed metal and everything in between.

Hank3 opened his set with "Nighttime Ramblin' Man" from the Lovesick, Broke & Driftin' album and proceeded to play a solid 90-minute set of country songs spanning his 16-year career. A Hank3 show is probably the only place you'll ever see a full-on circle pit break out during an old-school country song like "Smoke & Wine," but that's just another part of what makes Hank3 so unique in this day and age of polished and packaged pop music.

Hank3 brings a ridiculously diverse mix of people together -- from middle-aged cowboys in Wranglers and Stetsons to teenage heshers in Slayer T-shirts -- all of whom share a common love for music outside the scope of mainstream radio. Granted, there aren't as many cowboy types at Hank3 shows as there were 10-15 years ago, but even the metalheads eat up Hank3's brand of no-frills classic country.

At the end of his country set, Hank3 traded his acoustic guitar for an electric and played a brief, three-song "hellbilly" set that combined country twang with bluesy riffs and hard rock swagger. A short break followed, after which Hank3 returned to the stage with just an electric guitar and a drummer and played a roughly 45-minute set of Sabbath/Sleep-inspired doom metal. The set showcased a handful of songs from Attention Deficit Domination, one of the four albums Hank3 released earlier this month.

Hank3 @ Marquee 
Of course, no Hank3 set would be complete without some hardcore speed/thrash metal, so Hank3 donned a strange, Gwar-like mask/shoulder pad combo and tore into a set of songs from his Cattle Callin album. The album features samples of cattle auctioneers set to a speed metal backdrop, and Hank3 even brought a real, live auctioneer onstage for one of the songs. After more than three hours, the crowd was diminished, but still rowdy as hell and chanting for more, so Hank3 obliged with an encore of "Black Cow."

After the set ended, Hank3 immediately jumped down from the stage and began signing autographs for a large group of fans straining to get close to their country hero. With the country still reeling from one recession and possibly heading into another, it's great to see artists give fans their money's worth. Hank3 did that and then some. The country set alone would've been worth the price of admission, but when he throws in two sets of metal for a three hour-plus concert experience, you almost feel like you're taking advantage of the poor guy. Hell, he probably would've played longer, but the staff at the Marquee seemed anxious to call it a night, hoarding people off the smoking patio and closing the doors before the show had even ended.

Say what you will about the logic of fusing traditional country and hardcore metal, but Hank3 is clearly passionate about both, and his epic multi-set performance last night proved that he's passionate about pleasing his loyal fans as well. It's hard to find fault in someone so dedicated to his fans. Now if only more artists would take his cue...

I managed to compile a fairly accurate setlist for the country portion of the show, save for one song I didn't recognize a little more than halfway through. You're on your own for the metal stuff.

Country setlist:
Nighttime Ramblin' Man
Thrown Out of the Bar
Smoke & Wine
Crazed Country Rebel
Pills I Took
Long Hauls and Close Calls
3 Shades of Black
Rebel Within
Low Down
Troopers Hollar
Day by Day
Ghost to a Ghost
Dyin' Day
[Didn't recognize this one. Any help?]
Six Pack of Beer
D. Ray White
[Banjo solo/lap steel solo/fiddle solo]
Straight to Hell
Mississippi Mud
Country Heroes
Not Everybody Likes Us
Dick in Dixie

Hellbilly setlist:
Hillbilly Joker
Life of Sin

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