Who are the Yawpers? These young fellas hail from Denver, Colorado and unbeknownst to many they have been criss-crossing the US of A, laying waste to one venue after another with scorching sets of the good stuff, rock and roll. Last year the trio released American Man, their debut album on Bloodshot Records and one of 2015’s standout albums. On a recent Tuesday night, the Yawpers finally made their way to Austin where they hit the Sidewinder with none other than the Legendary Shack Shakers, who also just dropped a damn fine album.
With its wooden ceiling and stone walls, the intimate barroom took on the feel of a basement concert as people packed in for the Yawpers’ opening set. Part of what sets this group apart is the lack of a bass player, which they more than make up for with a guttural intensity and tricked out acoustic guitars. Frontman Nate Cook’s extreme mullet may have come off as eccentric, but it fit the band’s redneck Bruce Springsteen on acid music. Cook remarked that the band had embarked on a psychedelic trip the night before, and as the set wore on it was evident that the singer and his band mates were savoring the moment. Playing mostly songs off American Man, the Yawpers’ sound fell somewhere between Shakey Graves and the Black Keys, but with a gloriously grimy flare of its own. Cook’s delightfully vicious screams brought each song to new heights only possible with the colossal pounding of Jesse Parmet and the slide guitar of Noah Shomberg. By the time the Yawpers closed out with a cover of the Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” that could blow the roof off a double wide trailer, it was clear that their sound is destined for far bigger rooms than this one.
Most of those in attendance were there for the Legendary Shack Shakers, who hit the stage like a gang of maniacs ready to give their fans a taste of their new album The Southern Surreal. Few bands touring today have a frontman as beautifully twisted as J.D. Wilkes. The bespectacled singer ranted, raved and sang his own style of dirty blues, playing for a crowd that reveled in his debaucherous moves. At any given moment throughout the set, J.D. would yank his shirt open, touch himself, lean into the crowd and grab their heads like an evangelist preacher gone down the path of sin. At one point he even stubbed a cigarette out on a fan’s head. Of course, the fan loved it and the band kept right on grooving with their sleazy rockabilly that seems to rise from the bayou like a thick fog on a humid morning. The Shack Shakers are tried and true road warriors, and their set at Sidewinder showed just how good they are at getting their fans turned on. Together with the Yawpers, they gave the good people of Austin plenty to remember for a Tuesday night.
Photos by Arthur VanRooy.