By Laura Tsu //
Ben Hoffman, comedian and creator of “The Ben Show” on Comedy Central, has had a career change. As Wheeler Walker, Jr., Hoffman began embracing the persona of a country musician and recording songs like “Fuck You Bitch” and “Fightin’, Fuckin’, and Fartin'”.
According to his (fictional) biography, Wheeler Walker, Jr. has been signed and consequently dropped from three record labels for refraining from censorship, fighting with label executives and refusing to curtail attitude. Due to issues with the record label, his studio album Redneck Shit this year was financed with his own life savings and recorded on his terms. Getting help from producer Dave Cobb, who’s also worked with Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell, Walker has created a professionally sounding country album, yet with foul lyrics.
Hoffman embraced Walker’s personality full-heartedly for his first tour. His outfit of a dark button-up, black Western hat, obscuring shades and scruffy beard looks exactly like what he wore for his promo pictures, evoking mystery and gravity that contrasts his lyrical content. Walker himself plays an acoustic guitar, and a talented band supports him for a full-blown studio sound. This distinguished musicianship in this polished performance would suggest that Walker and his band have been professional country performers for a number of years. However, upon closer inspection, his lyrics remind you that Hoffman the comedian is truly the mastermind behind Wheeler Walker, Jr., mocking the honky-tonk lifestyle of the genre and the generic country songs you can hear on the radio.
Opening the evening was Birdcloud, the Nashville-based female country-pop duo. Jasmin Kaset and Makenzie Green perform no-frills music with just a mandolin and acoustic guitar, but their lyrics and performance contain similar tongue-in-cheek adult content like Walker’s music. While onstage in their glittery gold mini dresses, Kaset and Green apply their female perspective to address topics like drug and alcohol abuse, race and sexuality. The content pushes social norms, but just like with Wheeler Walker, Jr.’s music, your opinion of them is determined by whether you take it seriously or not.