Review by Scott StegengaWhat's fascinating about today's modern rockabilly bands (aka Psychobilly) is that despite the simple setup of a guitar, upright-bass, and drums, you can still make great rollicking tunes. What makes it work is the energy. If the vitriol behind a rockabilly band even fails a tad, you lose everything. Forget the need for several instruments, crazy electronics, or more band members. You can still rock out with a power trio and Psychobilly is just the proof.
Photos by Barry Brecheisen
The Reverend Horton Heat has brought his travelin' roadshow to the scene now for over a decade and shows no sign of slowing down. His recent appearance at The Double Door brought out all the latest concoctions of rock goodness. Whether you're covered in tattoos, donning a sleeveless work shirt, and wearing a pompadour that rivals Johnny Cash's days at Sun Records or just wearing what you wore to work that day, there's no excuse that by the end of the show you had the bejesus rocked out of you and you were covered in sweat that could very well have been holy water. Any show hosted by The Reverend himself has no excuse for full conversion and you will be healed.
So after seven albums, with the latest offering appropriately named Lucky 7, The Reverend Horton Heat can still pack a wallop in his live set. Dressed in a suit donned with flames that matched his sweet guitar, The Rev, bassist Jimbo Wallace, and Scott the drummer pounded and forced out a great 90-minute set of rockabilly revival. Its nothing short of genius for NASCAR to adopt the tune 'Like a Rocket' for their theme song as that tune along with favorites like 'Wiggle Stick,' 'Marijuana,' '400 Bucks' and 'Balls of Cocaine' came out with a frenzy like the start of a NASCAR race.
The Reverend and his elders are quite the impressive live band as the energy doesn't seem to stop. Bassist Jimbo Wallace is a sight to see with his stand up bass that looks like it's been through hell and back but still sounds as pure as the driven snow. Maybe hell has its good qualities? Song after song had the stage filled with antics like The Reverend standing up on Jimbo's bass as they both played and a few complaints about the hot weather inside the Double Door as The Reverend exclaimed "You Chicago people need to learn what we Texans already know... Air Conditioning." It came to the point where The Reverend decided to buy one for The Double Door soon enough. I hope he follows through on his prophecy.
Of course no show by Heat would be complete without some fine Jimbo songs. As soon as the band entered the stage, loyal followers were waiting desperately and began to chant "J-I-MBO". Eventually, The Reverend diverted attention, and a few funny insults, to Jimbo as he is without a doubt, one of the more unique live stand-up bass players in the scene today. Not many can achieve this with both their hands and feet as tools of the trade.
As people left the venue with their rock spirits scoured, the pure form of today's rockabilly revival oozed from the sweaty pores of each individual participant. Brian Setzer may be the most popular rockabilly revivalist out there, but The Reverend would tear him to shreds and leave poor Brian with nothing but ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
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