In the mid-90s Jon Langford told me he envisioned the Waco Brothers as his Chicago bar band, and indeed back then these raucous country rockers were kicking up dust in some club every few weeks. (They've slowed down a bit since drummer Steve Goulding moved to New York a few years ago.) Though four of the six members (Langford, Goulding, mandolinist Tracey Dear, and bassist Alan Doughty) are British expats, they're more committed to the American roots-rock ethos than most Yanks, honoring its down-home skepticism and acknowledging the mixed pleasures of booze. In "The Lie," from their recently released sixth album, New Deal (Bloodshot), Dean Schlabowske acidly observes how today's company man has been reduced to a class A chump: "Second door booby prize / Thanks for playing our game / Here's your piece of the pie / Don't spend it all in one place." In "Poison" Langford celebrates America's mongrel culture even as he berates its conservative populace: "You've got a one-party state of mind / It's your party, but I don't want to go." And the drinking songs are darker than ever: "In the Honky Tonk Shadows" is a slice of classic tear-in-my-beer nihilism, and in "Just No Way" Schlabowske anthropomorphizes his inner demons, ranting, "Schizophrenia, well it used to keep me company." But they've also got a way with an anthem--"AFC Song" transforms the cry of "Alcohol, freedom and a country song" into a defiant chorus that represents a whole way of life. Rex Hobart & the Misery Boys open. Friday and Saturday, December 27 and 28, 10 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Frank Swider.