• These boozy boys spit out country anthems for bitter grownups, songs that beg to be played with the volume cranked.  And when your yuppie neighbor bangs on the ceiling with a broom, you can twist the dial and let the Wacos tell him where to go.

    — The Stranger
  • The Waco Brothers are engaged in the righteous endeavor of connecting progressive impulses in American country/folk -- from dyed-in-the-wool lefty Woody Guthrie to pure products of old-time religion, such as Johnny Cash to the radical political aims of British punk. They're a band whose unlikely aim is to turn the American country song into a Molotov cocktail.

    — Memphis Weekly Wire
  • Smart and funny, pissed-off and tender-hearted, the Waco Brothers grabbed alt-country’s moral and musical high ground with 1995 debut, and they’ve never surrendered it. The Wacos connect traditional honky-tonk despair with leftist political analysis for the hardest roots-rock country around.

    — CMJ New Music
  • What makes the band a force to behold live is their refusal of subtlety. With three lead singers, a three-guitar lineup and a punk rock rhythm section, the band commits at a high level and rarely relents.

    — The Daily Herald
  • The band's songbook is filled with political parables fused to a lost highway aesthetic and loads of black humor... pass the bottle and turn up the jukebox.

    — Time Out Chicago
  • ...and dancers of all stripes jumped into the uproar on the tiny platform of a stage, seemingly destroying the barrier between band and audience. As the last bits of the tumultuous sound faded away, the crowd picked up the slack, cheering with all their might. A feeling of exhilaration permeated the air, leaving all assembled smiling the knowing smile. They'd been to rock & roll nirvana, and life just couldn't be any better.

    — Austin Chronicle SXSW
  • Possessed by the demon of rock'n'roll, haunted by the ghosts of old country music... to make matters better, the group's originals are so consistently inspired they come across as instant classics.

    — Billboard
  • The Wacos infuse lefty outrage into rollicking roots songs that lambaste Bush, Christian conservatives, commercial radio, and society in general enough to please any political hardcore band.

    — Onion AV Club
Chicago, IL

"I’ve never been able to find a live band in New York as consistently thrilling and funny and fun as the Waco Brothers." —Author and former Chicagoan Sarah Vowell interview on the Chicagoist.

You've heard of the crossroads where Robert Johnson made his deal with the devil?

Well, the Wacos race towards the crossroads of punk and country, heedless of speed limits and stop signs.  The collisions spectacular, loud, energizing and sometimes messy. We've seen them a two hundred and forty six times, and the Waco Brothers never fail to entertain.  Subtlety is for the weak, so they've chosen the path of optimum mayhem and tomfoolery. In their rollicking career, they have been called everything from the flagship act of the alternative country "movement" to pure butchery. Both are likely to be correct, even within one evening.

Let's let singer/guitarist Jon Langford describe the nexus of punk and country:

"It's so direct and honest, it's almost painful ... All the songs are about sex and death and drinking. If you listen to early George Jones, it's simple, three-chord stuff where the subject is everyday life ... It could be the Buzzcocks."

Indeed.  They can be political, they can be personal, and sometimes there is no difference.  But the Wacos never let politics get in the way of the next round.

The Wacos formed as a way to bang out country music covers, cage free beers out of friendly tavern owners and to provide a respite from their other bands.  Their early shows at long-shuttered Chicago watering holes like the Augenblick and Jimmy and Tai's Wrigleyville Tap are like crazy fever dreams from another time.  Who'd a thunk they'd become an institution?

The line-up, in case you haven't been paying attention: Jon Langford (Mekons, Pine Valley Cosmonauts), Steve Goulding (Mekons, Pine Valley Cosmonauts, Graham Parker & the Rumour), Alan Doughty (Jesus Jones, Dollar Store), Deano (Dollar Store, Wreck), and Tracy Dear (World's Greatest Living Englishman). Often filling in for Goulding on the Wacos' Midwestern jaunts is Joe Camarillo (Hushdrops).

When the Wacos hit the stage, they play as if their lives depend on it. Their shows at SXSW and CMJ are legendary, and every year threaten to actually collapse under the weight of their runaway brilliance. If you're not drunk, sweaty, and exhilarated at the end of one of their shows, then brother, we pity you.  You might want to get back to the safety of that couch of yours.

They are working to save music so you don't have to.

Compilation Tracks: 
Recommended if You Like: 
The Clash
The Pogues
The Hold Steady
Jason & the Scorchers

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