Most things you read about Chris Shiflett start out with the words “Chris Shiflett of the Foo Fighters” or “the Foo Fighters’ Chris Shiflett.” However, as much as I’m sure Mr. Shiflett loves his fellow rock bandmates, I’m here to propose its time to drop those extra words and just think about Chris Shiflett the artist. For support of this proposal I turn to his recent concert at Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium, where we got a full taste of his work, both old and new.
Over the last few years, Shiflett has carved a name for himself in the Americana scene. However, before he was even known for his role as guitarist with the aforementioned Foo Fighters, Shiflett’s musical roots saw him in the punk rock scene. Flash forward to 2023 and his recent concert at the Ryman where we heard these varied influences merge into his own sound.
For this special show, Shiflett split his set time between the songs his followers know well and a selection of new material that will be on his upcoming album which will be released this fall. One of those new songs, the murder ballad, “Black Top White Lines” has now been released and, based on the works that were previewed at the concert, is a good teaser for the rest of the album. At the Ryman it was served up with a thumping drum beat and an electric guitar riff that felt like a legit country rocker. Shiflett also shared the unreleased song “Overboard,” which had a more classic rock feel. While his new album will certainly get noticed in the Americana scene, the songs shared at the Ryman seemed destined to break from a niche market into a wider rock world.
While the setlist certainly had plenty of new material to consume, Shiflett made sure to include enough of his older songs to allow a few singalong moments for his fans. Early in the set, he gave us “I’m Still Drunk,” a song with enough country influence to feel right at home in the pews of the Mother Church. He also slowed things down, getting the crowd swaying along to “Long, Long Year.” “Goodnight Little Rock” brought out some of the best banter of the evening as Shiflett acknowledged that the more country-influenced Americana side of his songwriting was hampered by his lack of experience driving trucks. Thus, he wrote about what he knew instead, spawning “Goodnight Little Rock” which flashes back to his time riding in punk rock tour busses.
Serving as a bridge between the old and the new, Shiflett’s Ryman version of show-closer, “West Coast Town,” took on a more rocking edge, pushing it straight into southern rock territory. As the crowd clapped along to the feisty rhythm, it was clear that fans, both old and new, welcomed the rock attitude he was injecting. As the crowd roared with applause following the set, it was also clear that they appreciated the time they spent listening to Shiflett’s works on their own merits—a sentiment that is sure to spread as we get more tracks from his upcoming album and reflect back on the works he’s given us so far.