Patrick Sweany lays waste to the Mohawk in Austin (Live Review)
Anytime someone refers to a musician or act as the “real deal” their opinion is almost always rendered null and void at that very moment. Calling an act the “real deal” is as cliché as slapping the “authentic” label in front of that Oliver Garden meal you just ate. It is an affront that shows the slightly informed person you have no idea what you are talking about and feel the need to defensively attempt to justify your philistinism. That being said, Patrick Sweany is in fact the real deal. The Nashville-based singer-songwriter is the true definition of a rock ‘n’ roller. He cuts records when he can and tours constantly – a working musician down to the bone who is as willing to play to five people at the local dive bar as he is to slaughter a packed venue, because Sweany understands that a gig is a gig and that’s the cost of being a professional rocker these days.
Fortunately, the inside of the Mohawk in Austin was packed on Sunday night with fans eager to witness this real deal in the flesh. Wearing his trademark blazer, Sweany walked onstage with confident swagger, devoid of the dick-waving arrogance that often plagues hard-rocking guitar virtuosos. Sweany tours solo much of the time, but this time around he was backed by a group of young whippersnappers ready to back up his every move, and that is exactly what they did. From the very first note Sweany laid waste to the stage as made his way through a set consisting largely of songs off his latest album, Close to the Floor (Nine Mile Records). Tunes like “Working For You,” “Every Night Every Day” and “Every Gun” were defined and punctuated by dirty, punishing riffs at times reminiscent of Neil Young’s guitar solos circa 1970. Sweany pushed his sound even further with his blues-entrenched slide playing, which he alternated with regular picking in the same solo without ever taking the slide off his finger. Through it all Sweany kept his cool as he instigated the audience with his gritty, Joe Cocker-esque vocals and swirling, pandemonious guitar shredding.
Towards the end of the set Patrick Sweany played “Them Shoes,” a song that, through its inclusion on the Black Keys Pandora station, connected him with a large range of fans that previously would not have ever discovered him. The song is by no means his best work (it is a great song, don’t get me wrong), but if an association with the Black Keys brought paying customers to the show than I am behind it. Needless to say, the band took “Them Shoes” and jammed it fully, fleshing out each and every nuance of the song with Sweany giving the members of the band a chance to show off their skills, which ultimately made for a hard rocking beast of a live tune. All of this only solidified the fact that with Patrick Sweany there is no need to pretend like you just digested the “real thing,” because this professional rocker lays it all out regardless. Sweany is real and authentic without pretending. Unlike many of the “rock” bands out there today, Patrick Sweany does not have a persona or an image. He simply is who he is and that just so happens to be one of the best damn rock ‘n’ rollers around. -Neil Ferguson
Photos by Arthur VanRooy.
This article was originally published on The Horn, an online publication based out of Austin, Texas.