Reverend Horton Heat/Nekromantix/Creepshow
January 24, 2014
The Reverend Horton Heat is an act that’s both very easy to pigeonhole, yet very difficult to define. On one hand, you have traditional rockabilly band that blends Americana and psychobilly to design a sound that could easily be lumped in with old school stalwarts like the Stray Cats. But that would be too easy. RHH was born from the early ’90s Sub Pop scene, a world as far removed from Southern California rockabilly as it gets. They were both too late for the rockabilly revival and too early for the swing revival, but they thrived and gained a massive following from fans that weren’t your typical pompadoured greaser.
That couldn’t have been more obvious than at Irving Plaza on January 24, as Jim Heath and company took on a packed crowd of New Yorkers that couldn’t have looked more far removed from the gussied up, tattooed hot rodders that typically partake in East Coast shows tagged with the rockabilly monicker. I’ll be honest, the audience was a strange mix of old punk rockers, middle-aged yuppies, crotchety moms and a nice helping of bro-dudes. All those stereotypes went to hell as the group tore into a set of old favorites like “Martini Time,” “Psychobilly Freakout” and “Bales of Cocaine.” Circle pits broke out around New York’s legendary club, oddly enough, even for the slowest numbers, as the Dallas, TX trio lengthened songs with phenomenal solos and just tore up the stage.
The band’s Victory Record debut, “REV” (released just days before the show), was the centerpiece of the evening as RHH pounded out future-classics, such as “Victory Lap,” “Smell of Gasoline” and “Zombie Dumb.” The new numbers easily fit into the band’s musical canon, sporting some of the most ferocious licks and riffs of the band’s two and a half decade career. I’m seriously amped to hear the full record on wax.
Halfway through the set, RHH took a break and introduced legendary rockabilly ax man Deke Dickerson to the stage. The supergroup proceeded to hammer through covers and collaborations including Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Mexicali Rose” and a dueling guitar rendition of “The Millionaire.” The mini-set was capped off with a vicious version of “Psycho Therapy” from NYC’s own Ramones. The cover seemed to appease the flock of 50-year-old women standing next to me bitching about the amount of time the band was dedicating to “Horrible Hillbilly Music.” They were clearly not Deke Dickerson fans.
Two hours or so into the night, Reverend Horton Heat sent everyone home happy with a one-two punch of “Johnny B. Goode” (which Jim Heath called the most obvious cover ever) and an extended version of “Galaxy 500.” Dripping with sweat and wading through a thick cloud of e-cigarette smoke, the audience sang along to every word as the good Reverend preached to his flock, “You have the thing with my old guitar/ I can’t believe that you took it this far/ But things ain’t so bad/ Cause I have a Galaxy 500.”
Earlier in the evening, New York’s psychos were treated to a near flawless set by Nekromantix, who filled the better part of an hour with a set of greatest hits stretching their entire catalog. The latest line-up of Kim Nekroman’s ghoulish trio have settled brilliantly into their respective roles, particularly Lux—easily the best drummer in punk rock right now (arguably in the top 3 next to Travis Barker and Brooks Wackerman). Not to be outdone Nekroman and guitarist Francisco Mesa easily dominated the front of the stage with searing takes on classics like “Gargoyles Over Copenhagen” and “Nekrofelia.” The only odd move was choosing to eschew fan favorite closer “Who Killed the Cheerleader” in favor for a newer number, but beggars can’t be choosers.
The Creepshow opened the evening with a adrenaline-filled set of their catchy punk tunes. I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed with the departure of Sara Blackwood from the group, but Kenda Legaspi did a great job hyping up the audience with a voice just as good as her predecessors.