Outlaws Blast Coyote's

By Cary Stemle

It's painful for me to criticize the Outlaws.

The Tampa band was not only my favorite southern rock band, they were my favorite band, period.

But at their most recent stop at Coyote's on October 25, they were so loud that listening was downright painful. It was so loud, in fact, that two people I know, who were eager to see the show, left after a few songs.

OK, the youngsters out there must be wondering, "Is this guy getting too old for this rock 'n' roll stuff?" No, that's not it.

This was obliteratingly loud. The Outlaws style depends on three-part harmony vocals and intricate interplay between two lead guitars. But at Coyote's all nuance was lost. The guitars were unintelligible; you couldn't tell one note from another. It was just a numbing wall of sound. The real shame about it is that the songs are good, worthy of being heard the way they were recorded.

One of the managers at Coyote's said the club tried to persuade the band's sound people to turn it down. They refused. "It was like they were trying to get back at somebody," he said.

In my 15-plus times seeing the Outlaws, I have to say that bad sound has plagued them more often than not. But never has it been so unbearable.

Usually a review would single out highlights. I guess a couple were just hearing those old songs again, and seeing Hughie Thomasson whipping that Fender guitar like a runaway steer.

An acoustic number dedicated to the late Toy Caldwell was nicely done and recalled some of the Outlaws' older music.

As bad as the sound was, I'll be back again the next time the Outlaws hit town, hoping something has happened to change the band's philosophy.

The songs deserve better treatment.