Hawaii has strong roots in the country music tradition. Visitors associate the Hawaiian landscape with palm trees, sun, and some of the best surf in the world. Few realize Hawaiian cowboys, known as paniolos, were herding cattle on the Hawaiian Islands decades before cowboys roamed the range of the American West. And even fewer visitors are aware the steel guitar was developed in Hawaii by Joseph Kekuku in the late 19th century. Both are integral pieces of country and western history.
Therefore no one should be surprised Midland sold out The Republik, in Honolulu, Hawaii on a Wednesday night. Originating from Texas, the trio of Mark Wystrach (lead vocals/guitar), Jess Carson (vocals/guitar), and Cameron Duddy (vocals/bass) made a stopover on their way to Australia.
The fans in the audience were dressed for the occasion. The number of females in the audience was exceptionally high and daisy dukes matched with cowboy boots dominated the crowd and the gentlemen were dressed in boots, cowboy hats, and western style shirts. At 9:15 P.M. the band strolled out and immediately launched into “Playboys”, “Let It Roll”, and “Burn Out”. The small room provided a barroom intimacy to the concert. The extraordinary three part harmonies and catchy hooks made for an amazing performance.
In good conscience I cannot ignore the criticism this band has endured. There has been some controversy on how “real” this band is. The true history of the band may be stretched, thus their authenticity has been questioned. The need for street cred is unfortunate since the music is so good and that is all that matters. In concert the band provided the bridge between independent and mainstream country. The band maintains the roots of country music and delivers it to the masses.
This controversy was lost on most of the fans in attendance. Mark Wystrach was front and center with an open Hawaiian style shirt leading the band. The group played for close to ninety minutes with the majority of the set centered around their latest release Let It Roll. Highlights included the rocking “21st Century Honky Tonk American Band,” a duo of drinking songs, “Every Songs A Drinkin’ Song” along with”Drinkin ’Problem,” “Gator Boys,” and “Fourteen Songs” which was written entirely by Wystrach. The band concluded the show with a cover of “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac. As the house lights were raised and the band bowed at center stage “Sweet Caroline” was blasted over the PA. The crowd begged for the band to return to the stage but … that was all for tonight.
No matter what, Midland has made traditional country cool again. This band has the potential to go someplace. Hopefully a kid somewhere will attend the band’s concert and seek out those country music pioneers that have influenced Midland. https://www.midlandofficial.com
Playboys / Let It Roll / Burn Out / 21st Century Honky Tonk American Band / Cheatin’ Songs / Mr. Lonely / I Love You Goodbye / Fast Hearts And Small Towns / Cheatin’ By The Rules / Every Songs A Drinkin’ Song / Make A Little / Put The Hurt On Me / Roll Away / Somewhere On The Wind / E. Drinkin’ Problem / Lost In The Night / Gator Boys / Gettin’ The Feel / Fourteen Gears/ The Chain (Fleetwood Mac)