Josh Roberts: manic energy at Home Team 

A live review of Josh Roberts & The Hinges

Josh Roberts & The Hinges, The Trainwrecks
Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ
July 9

Josh Roberts looks like Ryan Adams on a particularly grizzled day — with his long, stringy hair and a five-day beard paired with hole-bitten jeans and a ruffled flannel. Throughout his high-powered show in West Ashley, he and his band displayed the same intensity that made Whiskeytown and The Cardinals so successful.

Savannah-based group The Trainwrecks opened the show in appropriate fashion, forging a knee-stomping rockabilly sound. They added healthy doses of dobro to the gravelly, smoked-out voice of lead singer Jason Bible. It wasn't the tightest set of music, but Bible's obvious passion and the band's dirty shuffle grew on me.

Though Roberts and the Hinges were without vocalist and banjo player Leslie Branham (Roberts' fiancee) for the evening — she was busy setting up a thrift store in the band's hometown, Columbia — they didn't miss a beat, putting out a churning blend of hard rock, blues, punk, and electric folk.

There was plenty of Gram Parsons, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen in the mix, but Roberts also injected his own songs with the manic energy of punk and the beefy jams of early Cream — not to mention a few John Scofield–esque freak-outs on the guitar. Roberts is a talented axe man, to be sure, but the Hinges operated on the more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts principle. Roberts is a demanding and highly effective frontman, riding the ebbs and flows that come with playing in any bar venue, and the mix of screaming two-part guitar riffs and softer vocal harmonies suited the room just fine on Friday. Some of the chunkier lines created by Roberts and his rhythm guitar player Robert Walker recalled the earlier, more guitar-heavy days of Band of Horses.

Toward the end of the first set, the band embarked on a punk-flavored version of "Eleanor Rigby," taking it to some unique places along the way, including Roberts' heavy teasing of the Allman Brothers classic "Jessica" and even a few bars of "Enter Sandman," which drummer Dennis Ware hinted at for nearly a minute by banging out the familiar high-hat rhythm that characterizes the Metallica tune.

Roberts eventually brought them back to "Rigby," completing a succinct musical odyssey that not only demonstrated the frontman's abundant soloing skills, but the band's willingness to take chances and, more often than not, come out on top.


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