For me the measure of a good show is how badly my calves hurt afterwards, from involuntarily bopping on the balls of my feet whilst trying to see over the heads of all you tall folks out there. On that scale, Hayseed Dixie was an eight out of ten; I feel like I have a clenched fist lodged in each calf (too bad they don't look that way.)
Hayseed Dixie's schtick is covering hard rocking seventies and eighties tunes in the bluegrass style. Just don't mistake them for a joke; these hillbillies are a tight unit that play hard, fast and gen-yu-ine bluegrass. For a band that would be worth two, maybe three, novelty songs on a mixtape, I was delighted to find that Hayseed Dixie had the staying power for a two hour live set. I wasn't bored for a single second.
As a former prepubescent metal head and a grownup bluegrass fan - this band mixed the best of both for me, but I challenge anyone to listen to a song or two of theirs and say they aren't 110% of good-old-fashion-foot-stomping fun. The energy on-stage was outstanding and each band member was a virtuoso on his instrument of choice...the fact that me and every other audience member knew just about every word to every song is simply a testimony to the fact that they have hit on a fool proof formula for knee-slapping, cow-tipping, country-fried F. U. N.
The band is made up of four fellas that look exactly like what they claim to be: Appalachian metal heads. And my dear people, if that ain't the best Redneck has to offer, than I don't know what is.
The lead singer, when talking, was all evangelical revival tent.
The banjo player ripped up AC DC, Motorhead, Judas Priest and the like.
(breaking the law, breaking the law)
But the guy who stole the show was the mandolin player. His bandmates' images may be had tongue firmly in cheek but the mando player was for rizz-eal: frazzled bleached out mullet whipping maniacally back and forth, red bandanna sweat band, black eyeliner, flickering tongue to drive the ladies wild, this guy had ALL the metal moves. He was Mick Mars, C.C. Deville and Eddie Van Halen all wrapped up in a pair of orange tie-dyed short-er-alls.
Dueling electric axes? Fuggetaboudit! This guy was dueling his tiny little mandolin with acoustic basses and banjos and rawking the house.
Metal hands? Check!
David Lee Roth split kicks? Check!
Arm raised defiantly above the head, finger pointing toward Metal Heaven? Check!
Ridiculous doesn't even begin to cover it...he was ridiculously AWESOME.
A) After hearing HD's 'You Shook Me All Night Long' I was convinced the song was written with a banjo.
B) You ain't heard War Pigs until you heard it bluegrass.
But these guys are more than just Headbanger's Ball junkies...
C) They covered the Scissor Sisters 'I don't feel like dancing' (TL - you woulda loved it)
and D) managed to turn the Sex Pistols 'Holiday in the Sun' into something nostalgic and poignant.
And just when you thought it couldn't get any better in RockGrass heaven...these guys mashed up Hotel California with....
wait for it...
Careless Whisper by Wham!
and it was awesome!!!!!
I know you wanna test that idea, so go ahead, try it, sing along (you know you want to):
On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself,
'This could be Heaven or this could be Hell'
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say...
I'm never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it's easy to pretend
I know you're not a fool.
See!! It works! I am not ashamed to admit I let fly more than a few rebel yells during this song and several others (as best I could manage, I am, after all, from New York. 'Rebel Yell' isn't exactly bred into me.)
Hayseed Dixie judiciously sprinkled a few originals throughout the set and ended the whole shabang with the predictable, but no less enjoyable, Dueling Banjos.
The only negative thing I can say about the show was that they didn't play any songs from their Kiss tribute album Kiss My Grass. Look at the name of that CD and tell me, how can you not love a band with that kind of cheek?
Worth an honorable mention, opening band, Prison Love, a seven piece bluegrass outfit with just a taste of cajun spice via accordion. The lead singer worked the washboard like nobody's business and the only thing seemingly missing was a guy playing the jug.
I could have walked away after their set and been satisfied with a good show. The fact that they were just warming us up for the main event was a gift.