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Opener of the Week: Hillbilly Herald at the House of Blues Chicago

Support the support acts! Opening bands are more than a commercial break—it’s your preview of the next big attraction, and we know you don’t want a bad case of FoMO. Get to know our pick of the week, and get to the show early to see them live.

Hillbilly Herald | HANDOUT PHOTO

By Selena Fragassi

Freelance writer Selena Fragassi picks her ‘opener of the week’:

BY SELENA FRAGASSI

Save your last goodbyes: Rock ‘n’ roll is not dead yet. Not as long as bands like Hillbilly Herald are still plugged in. With a heavy, southern rock on the skids mix of ZZ Top, AC/DC and Aerosmith, this riotous quintet takes the taboo out of classic rock by reigniting the hard-drive concert experience you might have once heard about.

Theirs is the time of vinyl and bootlegs, fan clubs and posted bills, when fists were thrown in the air instead of being fuddled with cellphone recordings and when Auto-Tune and lip-synching were considered more felony offenses than scalping tickets and underage drinking. If this L.A. band has taught us anything, it’s that it’s time to re-tell the history of what was once great, unfiltered music—and rewrite it even better.

Their own story begins in 2008. Before then, frontman Jimmy Herald was wasting away in bars and carwashes. But at the request of Slash (yes, that Slash), he began to assemble what would become Hillbilly Herald, which has since received glowing reviews from members of Black Sabbath and Motley Crue, become a staple on the Sunset Strip and been on repeated tours with the former Guns ‘n’ Roses guitarist and mock rockers Steel Panther.

But while Herald’s over-the-top Svengoolie persona and proclivity for Zappa staches, striped tube socks and a mic stand made out of beer cans might make you think this is some sort of Spinal Tap redux, don’t be mistaken. This band is more genuine than Cameron Crowe’s version of the ‘70s rock machine in Almost Famous. He should have waited a few years and followed Hillbilly Herald instead. Then again, as the band proves, there’s always a chance for a bigger, better sequel.