THE AFGHAN WHIGS

Published on April 23rd, 2022

The Afghan Whigs

The toxic relationship at the heart of 1993’s “Gentlemen” cemented the Afghan Whigs as a force majeure of American rock ’n’ roll, and singer-guitarist-songwriter Greg Dulli — author of that harrowing song cycle — as a troubadour of his age. Granted, anyone already paying attention knew this since the Whigs’ 1988 debut, “Big Top Halloween,” and had marked them through 1990’s “Up In It” and 1992’s “Congregation” as a true original among flannelled clones.

It’s easy to forget that these veteran rockers of Porkopolis — Cincinnati, Ohio’s nickname as a past capital of industrial meat production — were also at the Big Bang of grunge as it murdered the ’80s and ushered in a movement of Pacific Northwestiness and prophetic despair. Unlike many of their peers, however, the Whigs weren’t geography- or genre-bound.

Dulli’s lyrics — informed by substance abuse and sexuality but filtered through self-awareness and a sense of humor — elevated the songs. Musically, no band at the time took grunge’s punk and metal influences and injected them with the blues and soul like the Afghan Whigs did.

An object of intense, devoted admiration by fans, Dulli left partisans wondering what might have been had he not stepped off in 2001 to pursue a solo decade, and had a 2006 band reunion stuck. But since getting back in earnest, they’ve dropped two thoroughly enjoyable albums, 2014’s “Do to the Beast” and 2017’s “In Spades.”

A new single, “I’ll Make You See God,” is an incensed, garage-rock banger that tees up their U.S. tour kick-off in Ft. Lauderdale. (The Whigs have rarely played South Florida.) Featuring new recruit Christopher Thorn, formerly of Blind Melon, on guitar, the standalone track is by Dulli’s own reckoning one of the hardest Whigs tunes ever. It’s also featured on the new PlayStation game Gran Turismo 7.

With founding bassist John Curley, drummer Patrick Keeler and multi-instrumentalist Rick Nelson, Afghan Whigs have outlived grunge and blazed on with a consistency and relevancy that does them proud.

Afghan Whigs perform 7pm Wednesday May 11 at Culture Room in Ft. Lauderdale. theafghanwhigs.com ~ Abel Folgar

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