Southern Rock Opera

SXSW 02 Music Fest Wrap-up


Opal Divine's, Saturday 16 Comes a time when you get sick and tired of irony and all its forms. No-thank-you to bands that are too smart-alecky about what they're doing, as if to constantly say, "Oh my, aren't we the clever ones?" Enough already with overweening earnestness, too. Kansas City, Mo.'s Hadacol -- named after Hank Williams' favorite elixir -- instead put out some honest, unpretentious rock that's distinctly on the twangy side. The Slewfoot Records showcase had a tall order, with Bloodshot's extravaganza going on directly across the street, but Hadacol kicked things off with the Sir Doug-ish lope of "Gerald Ford" and never let up. They're a good, honest, Midwestern band with a total lack of pretense or affectation, no cute little cover songs or witty bon mots for the audience. They can pull off the rural-route chug of "Little Sadie," then turn around and slow things down for the weary shrug of "Already Broken." Songs like "Down Again" and "What I'm Doin' Wrong" tell stories of people who have seen trouble and may be down, but are a damn far way from out. Guitarist Fred Wickham plays stolid Telecaster runs without ever sounding showoffy, brother Greg mostly supplies the rhythm guitar, and together the two pull off the sort of tight harmonies that speak of two brothers who have had a lifetime worth of practice doing just that. This is what Americana should all be about: direct, with country influences that are readily apparent without being slavish or self-conscious. If you had to come up with a catch-all phrase for Hadacol, you could call them "post-ironic," but it would probably be better if you didn't.

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More by Jerry Renshaw
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