Live Review: Sixer Six

Where: Chattanooga, Tennessee

When: September 24

What’s better than helping a bunch of underprivileged kids?  A band of hard-rocking, blue-collar, men playing a free show for them.  Such was the case for Sixer Six on Saturday, September 24, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.   The group performed at the East Tennessee Baptist Home for Children.  Whether it’s playing for 30,000 fans at a festival like Cornerstone, or for an intimate group of 30 children, Sixer Six knows how to move the hearts of listeners by changing the atmosphere with stormy, guitar-backed vocals, and an earthquake of Appalachian rhythms.  Imagine if Phillip Anselmo and his band Down decided to join the contemporary Christian artists Hillsong onstage to lead praise and worship, or if Hank Williams III, stopped swearing and using dark imagery in his songs, then you’ve got an idea of what Sixer Six sounds like.  “Sixer Six is accustomed to playing at bars, biker rallies, and street shows more than it is churches”, according to drummer Marshall Sherles who shared that he lived in a home for children eleven years when he was a kid.

The group’s music was not typical of the current genre labeled “Christian,” but it is okay with that.  Sixer Six performed eleven songs this evening.  It opened with the tune Down n’ Outer, and the group’s frontman Marc B’z (Marcus Bersaglia) kept stopping throughout the song and putting the mic in front of little kids to let them shout.  The young audience was shy to this at first, but quickly warmed and grew close to the band by the second song Brass Knuckle Jesus, a song about how being a Christian doesn’t mean that one is just a “spineless pushover.”  Marc B’z explained in a recent interview that “just because someone is a Christian doesn’t mean they got to play watered-down, wuss, music.  Just because we love Jesus doesn’t mean we have to let people walk all over us.”  The band does not choose to disassociate itself from other Christian music, but it does not want to be stereotyped or summarized as a “Christian rock band.”  By the third song, a funk-blues standard in drop-D, a 20 month-old boy began to dance around onstage and run between the isles pseudo-shredding on his little foot-and-a-half long toy guitar.  That lightened the atmosphere considerably.

Being the primary singer and songwriter of the band, Mark B’z picked up a gold Les Paul guitar and began to show his prowess by playing solos while holding the guitar up behind his head on a song called Dead Man’s Boots. Next, the band slowed things down for “a country, love song” Marc B’z wrote for his daughter.  After that song, the band stopped and showed everyone a clear, large plastic crate full of candy to give to the kids.  B’z told them “you can’t have fun without candy.”  He continued by sharing a song about his deceased cousin in the moaning laments of Ur Gone.   The next piece, Ballad of a Regretful Man was about how “it’s never too late, even when death is staring you in the face, to turn to the J-man upstairs.”  After that kids began crowding onstage for songs to see who had better enthusiasm, the girls or the boys.  The girls clearly had it.  They all screamed and wailed like a soul-sister backup choir, while the boys mostly remained macho and quietly watched the band get loud.  The next hit was True Colors.  It was “about seeing through the facades and the fronts.”  The band ended its show with the hard-hitting Suffer the Low Road. In closing, this was a refreshing show.  It was a very interactive show.  It was not typical of rock bands that just get onstage, jam, and then leave.  Sixer Six took the time to share with its listeners and to include them in its show.  Afterward, guitarist Bryan O’ Banion said he’s “making it real, because Jesus was real.  There’s a lot of people in it for themselves, but that’s not us.”  For more information about the band and it’s new EP, visit them online at www.sixersix.com or visit the band on Facebook.

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