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Wetzel, Montana rock it

Roadrunner, Boston, May 13, 2022

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Koe Wetzel may be labeled as merging country and rock, but the emphasis most definitely was on the latter on this evening.

Wetzel didn't vary all that much from his sound starting with the muscular "Fuss and Fight" with its eyepopping staging of pots of fire going off occasionally and ending with "Feb. 28, 2016" during his hour-long show. And that left a bit of a feeling of been there, done that for a while. The twin guitarists often had quick rapid-fire licks to give the songs a lot of girth.

Part of the problem was Wetzel's vocals had trouble being heard above the musical din. Wetzel has a number of quality songs, like "Drunk Driving," but sometimes they got lost in translation to the live show. He also wasn't the most engaging artist going in his stage presence.

But about two-thirds of the way through the 13 songs, the Texas native, who has attracted quite a following in the Lone Star State, toned it down a bit and slowed the pace, making it clearer where the country connection came in. Smart move.

The result was greater subtlety and variety. The driving "Good Die Young" and "Kuntry and Wistern," one of Wetzel's best-known songs, were particular highlights. And the lighting throughout – especially with the lasers going on – was sharp eye candy.

Wetzel is not the complete package at this point in his career, whether rocking or going country, but there also is a lot of promise.

Opener Tim Montana may not have been all that different stylistically than Wetzel, but his gig came together better more fully than the headliner. "Do It Fast," perhaps his best song during Montana's generous 45-minute stint, set the stage for what was to come. It's a fast-paced rocker about throwing caution to the wind, and the long-bearded and haired Montana dished out more of the same with equal ability.

Montana – that is his real name - emphasized his working-class roots, explaining that he grew up just north of Butte, Mont. without electricity and running water because his family was poor. He offered a few more stats about Butte that were no exactly positive (including about drug use), but one got the distinct sense he'd rather be from nowheresville and do it his way than Nashville.

Perhaps that only underscored his idea of a good time. "This Beard Came Here to Party" was evidence of that. Montana wrote the song with far more bearded Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top. More importantly for the local crowd, as Montana reminded them, the song was adopted by the Boston Red Sox as the theme song of their 2013 post-season run.

Whether you call it country or rock or country rock, that may only be an appellation. It's what you do with it that may matter most.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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