When you pull up to a venue and see a line full of crazy rock ‘n’ roll fans lined up down the street, there’s a good chance Jackyl is in town. Three years in a row now I have gone to Amos Southend to see Jackyl, and each time they have put on some of the most out of control performances I’ve ever seen. They always seem to pick some pretty good openers as well, and this most recent time it was DB Bryant & Pinetop Lightning, an extremely talented southern rock band out of South Carolina. Judging by the way the fans packed into the venue reacted to their set, I’d say they were pretty pleased with them as well.
Coming into the show, I had never heard of DB Bryant & Pinetop Lightning, but I am sure glad I got there early enough to catch their set. These guys are a very talented group. Before they were even done with their first song, my mind was already blown by the incredible display of musicianship I was witnessing. Southern rock has changed a lot over the past few years, but this band keeps it old school. The guitar tone was gritty and full of a bluesy, soulful, southern sound that seemed to be the driving force behind the group’s music. The bass and drums never got too flashy, but they provided a good rumble in the chest of everyone in the crowd. The keyboards added a lot of flavoring to the up tempo sound, and kept the melodies flowing in the slower tunes. Vocalist DB Bryant has a deep kind of raspy voice that completes that true southern sound that the band brings to the stage. It’s reminiscent of great bands such as .38 Special, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Molly Hatchet.
Included in the guys’ set were a couple of covers that allowed the fans like me who had never heard them before get a chance to sing along. One of the covers, “Can’t You See” by fellow South Carolinians the Marshall Tucker Band, generated tons of cheers while their version of “Copperhead Road” by Steve Earle had everyone dancing and singing along. The originals this outfit played were what interested me though – it takes a lot of talent to write and play the kind of music these guys do. Being the only openers for the night, they got 45 minutes to show the massive crowd what they were made of, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only new fan they won over that night.
When Jackyl frontman Jesse James Dupree said that a Jackyl show is full of down and dirty rock ‘n’ roll, he wasn’t kidding. Driven by grooving, heavy, blues based guitar riffs, Jackyl’s music is the real deal when it comes to rock music. Dupree’s lyrics are all about sex, drinking, drugs and just having a good time – which is what everyone in Amos’ seemed to be doing that night. They had the girls dancing, the guys headbanging, and everyone singing along to hits like “Down On Me”, “Dirty Little Mind”, “I Stand Alone”, “Screwdriver”, and “Secret of the Bottle”. Dupree and the guys made sure to have plenty of fun themselves on stage as well; this was the band’s first show of 2015 and they looked primed and ready to go when they stepped in front of their fans in Charlotte. Jackyl has been around since the late eighties, so after twenty plus years of rocking out, you’d think they wouldn’t be much to watch on stage right? Very wrong, I got tired just watching the four rockers run and jump around on stage. They were having just as much fun as they did when they first started the band.
Dupree showed why he is regarded as one of the best frontmen in rock ‘n’ roll by having such great communication with his fans. Everyone had many opportunities to sing along on a number of songs throughout the set, we were also treated with some comedy as Jesse kept a smile on everyone’s face. A Jackyl show will never be complete without a hard rockin’ bluesy anthem featuring a chainsaw solo, though. “The Lumberjack” is the groups biggest hit and most well known stunt. Dupree revved up the tool throughout the song as he walked around stage holding it up as if it were a trophy. At the end of the show, he drove the chainsaw through a stool and proceeded to smash the mangled furniture to bits and pieces all over the stage. The final touch was pointing his shotgun shaped microphone stand at the crowd and “firing” it, generating a boom loud enough to take what little bit of hearing you had left away.
Rock ‘n’ roll music was created to help people forget about all the stress and troubles of their lives. When you go to a rock show you should be having fun, and your mind should be far, far away from reality – that’s exactly what you get at a Jackyl show. They love playing here in Charlotte, at Amos Southend in particular, so make sure to come out and see this insanity play out on stage for yourselves the next time they roll into town. Maybe you’ll get lucky enough to see DB Bryant & Pinetop Lightning open up as well.