The Rise of Koe is Accompanied by Noise Complaints
SAN ANGELO, TX — Less than year after Koe Wetzel released his current record titled Noise Complaint in 2016, Brad Beheler, one of the guys who runs the Texas Country Music website GalleyWinter.com tried to pin down the reason the music resonated with him and others.
The story of the Rise of Koe is familiar everywhere. In San Angelo during the summer of 2016, I stumbled on Wetzel’s album on Spotify while posting the line-up on the Blaine’s Pub website. The album’s title “Noise Complaint” sounded rowdy, as rowdy as challenging the fun-hating city ordinances against loud live music on Austin’s Red River Street.
We’ll get to how Wetzel is changing city ordinances “one city at a time” in a minute.
Like Beheler, I started listening. His song “Fuss & Fight” sounded like a souped-up version of ZZ Top’s "La Grange." Except his lyrics are much more in your face than ZZ Top’s subtle “A huh huh huh.”
And it’s faster. Angrier. More youthful.
WATCH: Fuss & Fight
It starts with, “I've been working like a slave / Ain't got no money / Done spent it all on bills.” It explains the workingman’s challenge with rising up economically when you have a girl back home riding you because you aren’t earning enough. But instead of kowtowing to her worries, he refocuses his mind (or maybe his ‘don’t give a sh**’ meter went full tilt) and tells her, “And I ain't got time / To fuss and fight with you.”
That’s the attitude Wetzel projects. His attitude is to go for it all and damn the people in his way. He doesn’t care about winning anyone’s approval, either.
Whatever the theme of the song, whether it’s finding someone sober enough to take him to Taco Bell, condemning the gossipers in a small town, or wondering why he awoke sober on a Sunday, Wetzel delivers “[t]imeless themes delivered with unapologetic and unvarnished attitude,” Beheler wrote.
Back in the summer of 2016, I texted Katie Bollinger who books bands for San Angelo’s Blaine’s Pub. “Check this guy out. You need to book him,” I wrote. I hate suggesting to the Blaine’s people who they should book. They are usually four miles ahead of me. They were this time, too. “I already booked him. He’s playing next month,” she replied.
The crowd was quite large the first time Wetzel came to San Angelo in the summer of 2016. He packed the 200-seat capacity Blaine’s. The next month Wetzel played there, a line out the door formed—one in, one out. The third time Wetzel was in San Angelo, he had outgrew Blaine’s but packed the 800-capacity Midnight Rodeo.
Blaine’s owner Cody Sturm said he hadn’t seen an act blow up that fast since Pat Green came along in the late 1990s. Beheler, who has been covering the Texas music scene for at least 18 years, said Wetzel’s meteoric rise was similar to Casey Donahew’s ascent in 2008. Others compare Wetzel’s rise to Cross Canadian Ragweed’s.
“We’ve jumped from Johnson County trailerpark meth-head celebrations to flatbilled Power Strokers with ego,” Beheler quipped about the difference between Donahew and Wetzel.
Two years after parking his van and U-Haul trailer in front of Blaine’s, Wetzel made history last August. He headlined the Wall Ag Booster’s Wild West Fest at the RiverStage with Parker McCollum and Read Southall. Wetzel’s show sold 5,500 tickets. The outdoor venue hadn’t been that packed for a Texas Country Music concert since the Blaine’s Picnics of the 2000s.
WATCH: Koe Wetzel acoustic "February 28, 2016" at Blaine's Pub in January 2018 (NSFW)
The Rise of Koe is fueled by an authentic, high-energy rock show with a front man who is relatable to a lot of people. Wetzel may also be changing municipal laws as well.
Following the first annual Koe Wetzel music festival in Lindale, Texas this year, the City of Lindale proposed a new ordinance.
The City proposed, “Regulating unreasonably loud noise from an outdoor venue to include unreasonably loud noise from a City property and to regulate the broadcast of obscene, profane, or vulgar language.” The new ordinance intends to provide a financial penalty and a severability cause for breaking the rules.
Wetzel headlines the Friday, May 3 opening night of the Concho Valley Spring Jam at the San Angelo RiverStage. Gates open at 5 p.m. There are two ticket options: pay a little more to be inside the “pit” on the concrete slab in front of the stage, or a little less to be on the lawn area up the incline.
Show promoter Kris Randolph is upping the number of speakers he’ll fly on each side of the stage at the Wetzel show. “Certainly eight, but probably 10,” he said. “There’s room for more woofers beside the stage,” he said.
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