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One Bad Pig Concert Review

One Bad Pig Austin, TX June 24, 2016 The Pig is back and this first show in years was going to be a litmus test for the aging band. Contrary to one of their early songs (“I’m Not Getting Any Older”), time is ticking away for all of us veteran rockers. Add that to the complications of working in a temporary new drummer and the living-in-separate-states factor, and the odds were stacked against them. If they didn’t step up and deliver, they’d have valid reasons (aka excuses) as to why.

Several months after birthing the idea of making a new album and playing some shows, a successful Kickstarter campaign that even achieved its “stretch” goal of pressing the album to vinyl, the band wrapped up mastering the album just in the nick of time (May 29th, to be exact) to start rehearsing its live set. Talk about cutting it close!

When arriving an hour early at the North Austin megachurch, Shoreline, there were not very many cars in the parking lot. Could this be a sign of a low turnout, which could translate into low energy levels and one bad disappointing record release show? Several V.I.P. ticketholders were holed up with the band, hob-knobbing and hanging out in one of the church’s many rooms. The several people I ran into during this pre-show time were all in good spirits and looking forward to a good time. There was some real energy in the building. This was good.

PJ Bostic, who would be doing double duty tonight as solo artist and interim One Bad Pig drummer, took the stage with his three-piece band to play a short set long on new tunes from his brilliant Light Me On album. Having gained notoriety as the drummer for Grammatrain (but also a short stint as Bloodgood’s drummer and the Seattle glammy power metal band Paragon), it’s quite impressive to hear him sing and lead a band through a performance – but that’s nothing compared to his guitar leads and command of tone. The dude is quite talented. I was most impressed with several string-bending leads and the set’s closer – “Convolute.”

Guitarist Lee Haley and bassist Daniel Tucek of One Bad Pig would also be doing double – if not quadruple duty this night, with their Johnny Cash tribute band, The Band in Black. Lee plays guitars for this country-blues hybrid. Daniel plays bass, harmonica and (believe it or not) drums. This is accomplished with a foot pedal and lots of eye-hand-foot coordination. Vocalist and sometimes acoustic guitar player Jason Birdwell does a good job acting the cool cucumber nonchalant frontman. His voice, of course, is pretty authentic. It was a good change of pace, but also a prime time to mingle with the many longtime friends that show up for these type of shindigs.

After the best emcee introduction I’ve personally ever heard… I mean, after I introduced the band and got out of their way, a cool video of the Green Acres theme song started playing (the intro to Live: Blow the House Down), the Pig took the stage and its cue from drummer PJ Bostic and hit a rolling guitar strum that marked the start of “Take A Look at Yourself,” which found frontman Carey “Kosher” Womack and guitarist Paul Q-Pek staking out their territory on the fairly wide but low youth worship room stage. Guitarist Lee Haley and bassist Daniel Tucek mostly stayed still in their locations at stage right. That’s all good, though, because Q-Pek and Kosher make enough visual “noise” to keep your attention throughout. The band was tight, fast and loud. They went right into “Hey Punk” and it was apparent that they’d done all the necessary homework.

The first of many brand new songs was played next, the title track to the Pig’s frenetic Love You to Death. Lee Haley played a tasty little solo. Next Kosher talked about Ben Moors, their Kickstarter supporter that won the right to have a song named and written about him. It seemed apparent that the band would launch into this witty tune. Instead, Kosher announced that “You’re A Pagan” was the dude’s first and favorite exposure to the band.

“Get Your Hands Dirty” came on next and this provided the freshest and coolest moment for me. Without Les Carlsen’s guest lead vocals, Kosher handled it all as if it were his own, but when it came time for the guitar solo, we got a special treat. I was not aware that it was a trade-off in the studio, but Haley and Q-Pek had a little guitar battle, with one fiery riff building and one-upping the other. It was fast, furious and, dare I say, METAL! It was quite awesome. It seemed a tie, but perhaps Q-Pek had the edge, since he answered each hot lick call with another, perhaps hotter lick. But his last response was an little squeak that was a kneel-down play at the end of a game.

The band got fun right after with its medley of old, mostly childrens’ worship tunes, “Sunday Skool Rawk.” The band’s slightly pop-punk ditty, “Teenage Royalty” went off well, as did its cover of the 77s classic, “The Lust the Flesh, the Eyes and the Pride of Life.”

Another real treat was hearing the band do its cover of “Man in Black.” Since they had a quality Cash impersonator on hand (Jason Birdwell), we got a rare chance at hearing this live. It sounded great. The vocal tradeoff between Kosher and Birdwell was fun to watch.

“Isaiah Six” (aka “6”) sounded great and show-stopping as always. “Red River” was next, complete with Kosher pouring a chalice of fake blood over himself. After drying off quickly before song’s end, Kosher came out and delivered a small talk referencing the three different types of martyrdom he’d read about: red martyrs (those that suffered death for the faith); white – believers part from their loved ones and home; blue – disciplining their flesh through fasting and hard work, controlling their desires, etc. It’s what the song “Red, White or Blue” is about.

They end up with “O.M.G.” with its declarative shouts that, “we’re on a mission from God” and then the giant kiddie pool filled with foam for “Ice Cream Sundae.” It was the first time, I think, that Carey picked up a fellow adult for the professional wrestling style body slam into the pool after his own swan dive into the white muck. It was a fun treat to see Ash Henson (aka Chaz) from Red Ink tossed into the ice cream sundae and make snow angels in the whipped cream-like topping. I’d hate to have to clean this place later.

For the encore the band came out tossing candy before ripping into “Looney Tune” and ending with “Smash the Guitar.” A few guitars were smashed into smithereens, which topped off the night with a giant exclamation point of fun.

[Review by Doug Van Pelt. Photos by Teresa Turnage-Simon and DVP] Reprinted from HM Magazine.

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