There are a few bands that I consider to be "can't miss" shows when they roll into Minneapolis, and Texas Hippie Coalition is one of them. I don't care where the show is, or what night of the week it falls on. When THC rolls into MSP, you be there! The site of this year's show was at Cabooze in Minneapolis, an underrated venue in itself.
Why is seeing Texas Hippie Coalition something you don't want to miss? It's a combination of the intensity of the live show, the camaraderie and fan-friendliness of the band, as well as the unbridled passion that THC fans have for the band. Just open up the album cover to their newest album Peacemaker (iTunes link) to see a small sampling of the THC-inspired fan tattoos that people have permanently etched into their bodies! THC loves their fans, and that passion is returned tenfold (or is it 420fold?) to the Band of Outlaws.
How many shows have you gone to -- on a week night or a Sunday night even like last night's show -- where "fans" stand in front of the stage with their arms crossed doing their best impressions of a store mannequin? Not only do you wonder why they're there, texting and tweeting away to their boyfriends and girlfriends, but I'm sure some of the bands do too. At a THC show, people are head-banging, jumping around, bumping fists with the band and having an all-around great time. And after the show? All four band members were at their merch table chatting with fans, signing anything and everything (various female body parts included), and taking pictures... with everybody. You can tell when a band is "going through the motions" with fans after a show -- trying to hurry everybody along and get out of there as fast as they can. Hey, they have that right, and after putting on a high-energy show and having to drive out to the next city on the itinerary, you could understand if they're a little worn and tired and don't feel like mingling much.
You'd never know that with Texas Hippie Coalition. They embrace and talk to you like an old friend, even for the first-timers or the "hippie virgins" -- for a few fans last night, this was their first-ever concert! Many of their fans and friends have followed the band for years, through 2008's debut Pride of Texas and 2010's Rollin'. For some of them, even longer. So it's great to reconnect with THC, as well as the new and old faces you see at every one of their concerts.
I saw THC last June when they rolled through Minneapolis and wrote about it here. In terms of the band, there have been a couple of changes since the Fridley show last year. Big Dad Ritch and the "Pornstar" John Exall are still in the band, but guitarist Randy Cooper is on hiatus, recovering from an injury, putting Wes "Gunslinger" Wallace on lead guitar duties. On drums, Timmy "The Hitman" Braun took the place of Ryan "The Kid" Bennett. I was curious how they would perform live, since the musicians they're replacing are certainly no slouches on stage!
I had nothing to worry about since they all put on an exceptional show. Songs from Peacemaker that made the live set included the album's powerful opener "Hands Up," "Don't Come Lookin'," the album's first single and new THC anthem "Turn It Up," as well as what's probably the most underrated track on Peacemaker, which is the iTunes-only bonus track "Whiskey." That's another reason why you need to buy that bad boy on iTunes! What I thought would be an easily-forgotten filler track has become one of the definite highlights and headbanging live tracks on the album. (My only "regret" is that they didn't end up playing "Sex & Drugs & Rock and Roll" but I asked Big Dad Ritch about it after the show and he said they're still "working on it," so here's to hoping they rock that bad boy someday!) In addition to the previous live show staples from the first two albums, one surprise was that they played "Leavin'" off of the Pride of Texas album! They hadn't played this one in quite awhile, and some long-time THC fans had never even seen it live yet, so it was a welcome addition. The show ended with "Pissed Off And Mad About It" -- as if there was any question about that!
One of my favorite parts of the show was not only watching each musician during their respective solos, but watching the reactions of the other band members. Wes Wallace cut a great solo, and it's been great seeing him "shine" as THC's lead guitarist, letting his charisma and legitimate talent on the guitar be seen finally. During his in-your-face solo, seeing the look on Timmy's face made it seem like he was in awe of the Gunslinger Wallace. This was returned during Timmy's insane drum solo, as Big Dad Ritch watched in amazement as The Hitman bounced around his drumset during the solo. What can be said about John Exall that hasn't been already? Simply put, he's a certified madman on stage and a truly nice guy off stage! While a lot of bands are four individual parts on stage, the cohesiveness of THC showed through during the Cabooze show.
Do yourself a favor and check out the tour dates on their official website or Facebook page. Tickets for the Cabooze show were priced at an insanely-low price of $5! Each of my (many) drinks cost that much or more. It's always a great time seeing Texas Hippie Coalition, and a virtual guarantee of meeting the Hippies post-show for some autographs and pictures.
Even if it's a work (or school) night, I always say a year from now, you're not going to remember that you only got two or three hours of sleep one night last year, but you will remember the night that Texas Hippie Coalition rolled into town, turned it up and blew some minds on stage. Buy a t-shirt, (legally) download some rockin' tunes (help pay for gas in the RV!), and call your local radio station and tell them to get some THC goin' strong!
(Speaking of which, a little birdie at the show told me about Pablo of 93X in Minneapolis saying he'll play some THC when they "write some good songs," so I made sure to include more than a few links to them in this review so he can listen in and see what he's missing after he's done drinking his wine. It's not as if Texas Hippie Coalition would be the first band that 93X played on the radio that "didn't write good songs"! With that reasoning, it seems like they'd fit right in with the rest of the music 93X plays, but I digress.)
Thanks to Cabooze and Texas Hippie Coalition for a great time last night. Turn it up!