If you are like me, a rock n roll fanatic, and from the South, you probably spent many of your musical formidable years listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Allman Brothers, The Doobie Brothers, Little Feat, Charlie Daniels, and others that define the term “Southern Rock”. What has always drawn me to this sub genre is the fine tuned storytelling and the songs about the darker side of life. If you have ever been on an old mountain road alone at after the sun has set or in the French Quarter at 3 AM Halloween night, then you know that dark side I speak of. Unfortunately, what most people consider to be “Southern Rock” are those misunderstood redneck anthems. If you are to poke around the South a bit; in the honky tonks and bars, a new sound is brewing. Who’s to say those “Southern Rock” rules cannot be broken?
Last night was a typical hot, humid, summer night in Atlanta. It was even hotter upstairs at Smith’s Olde Bar, especially with The Higher Choir railroading the crowd with their self described “Southern Gothic” rock n roll. Last night was THC’s EP release party for “Steeped in Southern Tradition”. Well a party is what they called it. I would call it an old fashioned ass whipping! It was obvious these guys have been working hard on their craft and proved they are here to stay. The sound was loud, dark and dirty. With seven members in the band, these guys are big and powerful. And they know it! Which to me is fantastic, rock n roll should be a little cocky, on stage at least.
With six different instruments on stage, Chance Walls does a fantastic job pulling it all together with his country punk presence and screaming vocals. Stephen Darley, Wayne Glass, and Harold Sellars hammer down the foundation on the bass and drums. I think the left side of my face is a little bruised from standing in front of Darley’s bass amp all night. And let me tell you folks, Wayne is a beast on his translucent green drum kit. Alan Connor and Grant Mitchel take turns with the guitar work, making it look easy. The two are a perfect fit with Grant on the backup vocals and Alan stepping up to the front, shoving his nasty guitar work down your throat, all with that guitar player flare. These two were tit for tat all night without missing a note, even with Grant ripping up a bunch of strings. The Pozz sits back calmly on the keys, collected and cool, with his dark shades on. The Pozz, with Sellars on percussion, wrap it all up with a nice pretty bow, giving the band wisdom and depth. Hell, I think there was even a trumpet, a pedal steel, and a mandolin on stage at some point last night. Take all that and mix it up with stories of corn liquor, race car drivers, guns and hard work, and a perfect southern cocktail is what you get. Heavy, haunting mystique, with a little bit of rage makes for a fantastic rock show.
The Higher Choir answered the question, who’s to say we have to stay in the lines of the typical southern rock definitions. At a loss for my own words to describe their sound I will have to agree that “Southern Gothic” fits perfectly. So, if you like it loud, a little rude, and even a little scary like I do, do yourself a favor and get out and see these boys. You might even get lucky, and hear a version of Althea, that will melt your face in a whole new way!
GO SEE LOCAL MUSIC!