For most country music fans, the phrase “Outlaw Country” is a reminder of the genre’s meanest years, when guys like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard told stories with their songs and made people actually believe that the artists would kick someone’s ass for questioning their country roots. Today, though, there has been a resurgence of “tough guy” pop country singers that have sort of adopted the title to try to add a little edge to country music again – Exhibit A: The Nashville Outlaws Tribute to Motley Crue – but for most fans it’s still as transparent as a girl’s beer-soaked tank top in the front row at a Brantley Gilbert show.
Unfortunately for the purists out there, the throngs of drunken college-age party bros and babes don’t give a crap what Outlaw Country (or Texas Country, for that matter) means, so long as they can shake their asses to the latest paint-by-number tunes while beer-bonging the hell out of that 24-pack of MGD in the bed of their brand new Ford trucks. At the head of the pack for today’s Bro Country movement are performers like Florida-Georgia Line and Jason Aldean, whose songs might not go down in history with those of Cash, Haggard and Willie Nelson, but they’re certainly helping these artists laugh all the way to the designer jean stores.
With such success comes great criticism, as we saw, again, with that Motley Crue cash grab that featured such “Outlaws” as Rascal Flatts and LeAnn Rimes, and had some of the funniest and meanest iTunes reviews of any album released in 2014. As for Aldean and Florida-Georgia Line, who are currently on tour together, dropping panties around scores of cowboy boots, this year’s meanest music review comes at their expense, courtesy of the Dallas Observer’s Jaime-Paul Falcon, who basically just said, “F*ck it” and started spittin’ Skoal Pouch juice from the very first sentence.
Ebola causes you to leak fluids from your body’s orifices and bleed internally until your body starts to slowly shut down. Then you die from a combination of low blood-pressure and organ failure. If you have the misfortune of being an American who catches this vile disease, the media will ruthlessly invade your privacy and reveal every minute detail of your life to the public. This is a horrid fate for anyone unfortunate enough to catch this terrible malady.
And I would gladly endure it all so long as I never again have to suffer the experience of sitting seven rows back from the stage while Florida-Georgia Line and Jason Aldean gleefully danced on the grave of one of the most purely American forms of art to the tune of cheers from 9,999 very intoxicated people. (Via the Dallas Observer)
So here’s the question – is this a critique of the “artists” or is it a takedown of the fans and their acceptance of second-rate country fluff, while so many other acts are out there, deserving of this success? No one is safe. Takes don’t get much hotter than this, unless pappy left them sittin’ on the hood of his beat up Chevy truck under the hot Lubbock sun.
I approached Saturday night’s show with an open mind, but one glance at the insanely packed parking lot and I realized maybe the stereotype of the modern country music fan (privileged, a little slow, boisterous and in love with terrible music and terrible beer) was completely dead on. In this scene chaos reigned: Michelob Ultra was chugged as if it was a life-extending elixir of the gods, mini-barbecues raged and Florida-Georgia Line’s “Dirt” was blasted at tornado siren levels. There are SEC tailgates that don’t get this wild. A sea of scantily clad women in cut-off shorts and fashionista cowboy boots swarmed around trading jello shots and dancing on any man who offered a beer. Ass is abundant and of low value at bro-country shows.
First, I’m happy that I’m not the only person calling this stuff “Bro Country,” because a guy like Brantley Gilbert really deserves to be at the forefront of his own “Y’all, what’s up?” movement. Then again, maybe it’s a widespread term and I’ve avoided it by mostly avoiding the genre. More importantly, though, the party bro in my soul doesn’t think that scene sounds all that bad, so let’s focus on the music.
Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line looks like country music’s take on Scott Stapp, with his flowing hair and affinity for bare skin and crosses. While on stage he and Brian Kelley and the rest of the band all sported one of their own band’s T-shirts. Yes, they’re an entire band of “that guys.” Hubbard also handled most of the band’s singing duties, including occasionally dropping into a rap-like cadence while Kelley stood around playfully strumming an acoustic guitar that’s nowhere to be heard in the mix. Congrats bro-country, you have your Limp Bizkit.
Despite the whole trivializing Ebola part, a more scorching description has not been written, and there’s plenty more where that came from. Best of all, Falcon nailed the irony of a show like this, as Florida-Georgia Line is next up as the “next big thing,” a status that Aldean is almost done enjoying, and behind them all, there will be another artist or group ready to take things one step further. My guess? Ska-country. The BROpocalypse continues with horns and mesh tank tops.