I have heard their music. I have watched their videos. I was still not prepared for the hard-rocking frenzy of Hillbilly Casino at the 2017 Nashville Boogie Vintage Weekender. With a loyal legion of fans pressed against the Ryman Garage Stage at Opryland Hotel, the band was ready to throw down from the first note—and the energy never let up. The crowd screamed, danced, and sang through the entire set, a perfect match to the band’s intensity.
To be clear, Hillbilly Casino is not your father’s rockabilly–it’s what you would get if Rage Against the Machine decided to make a roots album. Thunderous guitar, piercing vocals, and headbanging upright bass made the whole place echo and shake. There is no indication that the band intends to relax from their rocking ways–the set featured several raucous songs that will be on their upcoming album.
It was also more than a concert–it turned into a movie set. In a bit of an odd, but fun twist, front man Nic Roulette broke out a camcorder and informed us that we were all part of a movie. You see, the band had caught a Scooby Doo-like villian causing trouble throughout the Boogie. When unmasked, the perpetrator turned out to be none other than surprise guest Chops McClintock of the Krank Daddies. McClintock then joined the band, adding his signature grinding guitar sound to the frenzy.
The Nashville Boogie Weekender does a fantastic job of bringing together the legends of rockabilly and the new guard. Hillbilly Casino certainly embraces, even features, the rock in rockabilly and are exactly what the genre needs to keep it fresh, exciting, and edgy.