Texas Hippie Coalition bring the South to Pittsburgh Jul14

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Texas Hippie Coalition bring the South to Pittsburgh

Southern hospitality and charm probably aren’t the first things that spring to mind when you think of Pittsburgh, but when those regal southern gentlemen known as Texas Hippie Coalition came to the Hard Rock Café on a hot night in July, fans found out first hand why these good old boys are the Pride Of Texas.

Led from day one by the unlikely, but charming as fuck frontman Big Dad Ritch, these purveyors of southern fried metal are currently Rollin’ down the road and Rollin’ joints on their “Smokin’ Hot Tour,” in support of their newest album for Carved Records Ride On, with opening act Red Sky Mary.

Brookville, PA natives Hatred Rising kicked things off that night with a rollicking set of melodic metal with titles like “I Am,” “Taken” and crowd favorite “Liar,” which lead singer Fred Baughman dedicated to the hometown crowd saying, “Everybody knows one.” Their set was solid and the songs were strong. The evening was off to a great start.

From there, Pittsburgh rockers The Whiskey Rebellion upped the ante with a powerful set of melodic metal. Their set was extremely well received and their new single- “Lamb’s Cry” brought the crowd to their feet. The band’s performance was so hot that when they finished, lead singer Garret Sinagra and guitarist John Ribel jumped into the water fountain outside.

Up next was THC tour mates Red Sky Mary. Their sound is a throwback to the 70’s- similar to bands like The Answer and the fans ate it up as the guys sang along and the ladies danced around. They owned every inch of the stage and were the perfect compliment and contrast to THC. Keep your eyes on these guys as they have a very bright future ahead of them.

At last, the time had come for Texas Hippie Coalition and as the aforementioned fountain danced outside to standards by Katie Perry, Taylor Swift, Elvis Presley and even “The Adams Family” theme, THC unleashed hell and the spirit of Pantera inside. Dimebag would have been proud.

Longtime bassist John Exall is an absolute beast, drummer Tim Braun is solid as a rock and guitarist Cord Pool’s smile is just as infectious as his playing, but as usual, all eyes were on charismatic frontman Big Dad Ritch.

Between songs, Ritch- who has the art of storytelling down to a science, spun hysterical yarns, with each antidote being funnier than the last. The one about them being stopped at the Canadian border because their van smelled like weed got huge laughs.

Like Henry Rollins and Scott Ian before him, Ritch would be a natural at spoken word or could easily be a stand-up comedian, but let’s not lose focus on what really matters, his larger than life stage presence, his total command of the crowd and that stunning big burly voice.

Fans were treated to newer tracks like “El Diablo Rojo,” “Monster In Me,” “Bottom Of The Bottle,” “Fire In The Hole” and “Ride On” alongside classics like “Hands Up,” “Rollin’,” 8 Seconds,” “Turn It Up” and closer “Pissed Off And Mad About It,” which brought the house down and saw everyone singing at the top of their lungs, jumping up and down and wishing it would never end.

It’s only a matter of time before the Texas Peacemakers are the next big thing, so don’t miss what may be your very last chance to check them out up close and personal in a smaller and more intimate club setting, before they are thrust onto the global stage and playing massive arenas for thousands of adoring fans.

-Eric Hunker

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