Shelton Hank Williams III—you may know him as Hank 3—walked on to the Pappy and Harriet’s outdoor stage approximately an hour later than scheduled.
“Is it going to be one of those kind of nights?” he asked—a question which was met with a cheer from the raucous crowd. With that, the pride of Tennessee kicked off a three-hour plus set of country, punk and metal on Sunday night, Sept. 28.
Hank 3 was backed by a rhythm section with an upright bass, a banjo-player, a fiddle-player and a drummer (partially hidden by a wall of amps). The Pappy’s audience recited almost every word to every song during the country set.
When Hank 3 sprang into “Gutter Town,” good ol’ boys and gals began to form a circle pit about 15 feet from the barrier which had been erected between the stage and the audience. Two security staffers guarded the stage to prevent stage-divers without a proper knowledge of the laws of physics from hurting themselves. Indeed, the liquored-up crowd was looking to have some crazy fun on this Sunday night. A few fists were flung, and a dust cloud was created as heavily tattooed moshers wearing Hank 3 merch and flat-bill ball caps ran and pushed each other. Security (which had been doubled for the show) did a good job of keeping the circle pit contained, and it appeared traditional moshing etiquette was in place, including rule No. 1: Help your fellow mosher up when he or she falls. Hank 3 even commented on the chaos, saying before “Long Hauls and Close Calls”: “If you do not want to be shoved and pushed around, 15 (feet) in front of the stage is not the place to be.”
As he sang “Lookin’ for a Mountain,” you immediately understood why country music has endured: Yeah I’m lookin’ for a mountain that I wanna call home. Yeah I’m lookin’ for a mountain, a place to rest my bones.
“It’s starting to look like an outlaw convention,” Hank 3 commented at one point, an observation which was met by hoots, howls and what appeared to be an empty plastic beer pitcher flying through the air.
Two hours in, Hank 3 removed his cowboy hat and began his punk set. The crowd thinned a little, but the moshers kept on having fun. A projection screen accompanied the music with snippets of vintage newsreels, documentaries and nature films—all of which had dark undertones.
As the show ended, you could almost sense the ghost of Pappy, looking down on this old honky tonk and nodding his head in appreciation of the fact that Hank 3 had lived up to his pedigree.