Hank Williams III -- friends call him by his birth name, Shelton, but he just doesn't seem like a Shelton -- suffers a bit from a split personality. Or is it simply adolescence, a prolonged one? Either way, audiences can't be completely sure whom they'll get to see Saturday night at the Galaxy: the Williams of the Curb-issued CD Risin' Outlaw, the sweet-voiced descendant of his grandpappy or the frontman of his touring band, Assjack, the punk-rock/metalhead who says the word "fuck" more often than Tony Montana. Whatever the case, audiences are sure to be knocked senseless by his performance. Typically his six-piece Damn Band (the alter ego of Assjack) plays two distinct sets: a weed- and whiskey-soaked honky-tonk complete with blue yodel and a raw-boned thrash built around aggressive guitar riffs. Although it's exactly that dichotomy that makes Hank Williams III a star-in-progress, he's increasingly interested in fusing the two. It's a remarkable performer who can mix amphetamine-laced honky-tonk such as "Blue Devil" with a plaintive number like "You're the Reason," all the while wearing a Black Flag T-shirt. Or one who's as comfortable singing "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It" as the Melvins' "Honey Bucket," as likely to open for George Jones as for Beck.It's been a while since he released Risin' Outlaw (an effort he's oddly comfortable blasting), so Saturday night's crowd should be hearing lots of material from his next release -- or is it releases? Reports of his forthcoming work describe it as country, punk or rock, so maybe there's more than one. Having collaborated with guitarist Duane Denison (Jesus Lizard) and former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo, Williams now talks of melding sounds with DJ Viper (!). Most of us don't have to worry about where to file it in our record stores, so just go to the show and two-step, line-dance or mosh if you wanna.
On second thought, nobody, least of all Hank III, suffers from his personality division; rather, we should all dig the schizophrenia while it lasts. As he's admitted himself, no one can stay that pissed off, that loud, that fierce forever.
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