Southern Rock is a genre foreign to many at St. John’s, country even moreso. But between Distance Learning and a more diverse student body, our horizons are more broadened than ever before. With this in mind, I headed down to Raleigh, North Carolina to cover the Rowdy Frynds Tour.
The lineup included what amounts to southern royalty- .38 Special, Hank Williams Jr., and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The RBC Center, a stadium literally filled to the rafters, rafters marked by regalia from NC State’s national championships and the Carolina Hurricanes Stanley Cup victory, was once again filled with energy and excitement.
Diversity was in full effect on that warm Saturday night. Both young and old, redneck and preppie, crazy and sane came out to the show. I was with my photographer, Uncle Mark, who coincidentally took me to my first ever concert back in 1984. The headliner then- Hank Williams Jr.
After snagging a couple of eight-dollar beers, we headed to our seats. We were expecting the opening act, .38 Special, to be merely 70s rock nostalgia, but we were wrong. Taking the stage with their hit “Rockin’ Into the Night,” .38 Special turned out to be worth the price of admission alone. They continued to rock through classics including “Fantasy Girl,” “20th Century Fox,” and “Hold On Loosely,” never missing a not or melody.
Next came the man that most of the audience came to see. Hank Williams Jr. hit the stage hatless (which is unusual) wearing a personalized “Bocephus” Carolina Panthers jersey. While it was unorthodox to see a bona-fide headliner mid-show, Hank did not disappoint.
Bocephus hit the stage with guns blazing. Jr. acknowledged his southern roots with rockers like “If Heaven Ain’t a Lot Like Dixie” and “That’s How The Do It In Dixie.” He also played staples “A Country Boy Can Survive,” “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound,” and “Born to Boogie.”
There were some fantastic surprises as well. Old school met new when Hank performed his legendary father’s hits “Your Cheatin Heart” and “You Win Again,” and then Kid Rock appeared on stage for closing duets of “Family Tradition” and “If You Don’t Like Hank Williams.”
By this time, the crowd must have been exhausted after two solid hours of music. But that didn’t stop Lynyrd Skynyrd from showcasing their decades of hits. If you can name a Skynyrd song, they performed it that night.
Skynyrd played dead-on versions of “Call Me The Breeze,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “SaturdayNight Special,” “The Ballad of Curtis Loew,” “Gimme Back My Bullets,” “Red, White and Blue,” among others. Tired as they were, though, the capacity crowd was still on their feet, lighters blazing, during the “Free Bird” encore.
As we walked out of the stadium, both Uncle Mark and I agreed that, overall, it was one of the best shows we had ever seen. Each artist easily held their own and could have been the headliner. There was not a bad moment throughout the show, a true rarity in today’s concert lineup.
The Rowdy Frynds Tour will hit Albany on Saturday, June 9th. Any fellow Red Stormers who head north to check it out will not be disappointed.