TVD Live: Reverend Horton Heat with Nekromantix and The Creepshow at the 9:30 Club, 1/26

PHOTOS: KRISTIN HORGEN  | When you talk about the psychobilly genre, one of the first names always mentioned is Reverend Horton Heat. Like a hot bowl of Texas chili, their music is a delicious combination of flavors—a heap of rockabilly, a dash of punk, equal parts country and rock, and a generous amount of humor. Their style is distinctive, and their live shows are not to be missed.

With the new album, Rev, out on shelves, The Rev wrapped up this leg of their tour at the 9:30 Club in DC with a show that was one for the books.

Starting off the night was Toronto’s The Creepshow, in their first-ever DC appearance. (They had previously only come as close as Baltimore) Storming onto the stage with “Creature of the Night,” the horror-tinged punkabilly rockers quickly won over the crowd. Bassist Sean “Sickboy” McNab was slapping and spinning his double bass, while the Reverend McGinty’s organ, which was unfortunately lost in the mix at times, added a brilliantly eerie element to their music that sets this band apart.

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

The shining star of their set was the newest addition to the band, singer Kenda Legaspi. Her energy and charm were infectious, whether she was playing guitar, standing on top of Sickboy’s bass, or jumping down and singing with the crowd from the center of the floor. The strong backup harmonies from Sickboy and McGinty filled out their sound nicely, especially on songs like the ’50s doo-wop inspired “Zombies Ate Her Brain.” The Creepshow closed out their fantastic set with “Rue Morgue Radio,” Kenda once again singing from the floor.

© Kristin Horgen

As the lights went down once again, the creepy extended intro to “Nice Day For A Resurrection” played over the PA, and the Nekromantix took the stage. Singer/bassist Kim Nekroman was larger than life, with his coffin-shaped double bass and a perfect pompadour shaped like (and the size of) the Rock of Gibraltar.

They played through songs like “Alive” and “Horny In A Hearse,” with a sound that mixed traditional rockabilly with a modern creepy attitude. One moment you would think you were about to hear something in the vein of Gene Vincent, until the gears changed and they would amp things up and sing about coffins and graveyards.

The spooky set marched on, with the alluring Lux beating a perfect rhythm on the drums, while Francisco Mesa ripped it up the guitar. The crowd was responsive, and as the music on stage got more frenetic, so did the activity in the pit.

© Kristin Horgen

Finally, it was martini time, and the Reverend Horton Heat had returned. Memories of seeing The Rev almost 20 years ago in this same club went through my head as they took the stage, but this time felt a little different. Normally decked out in a garish polyester suit, he came out simply in black pants and a flannel shirt. There were no frills to the stage—simply equipment and a backdrop of their logo. The look may have been stripped down a bit, but the music definitely wasn’t.

Kicking things off with one of their trademark instrumental intros was “Victory Lap,” the album opener off of their newest release, Rev. Following the tracklisting, they went right into “Smell of Gasoline.” The first surprise of the night came next. The band went into their fan favorite “Psychobilly Freakout,” and Kim Nekroman returned to the stage, calmly commandeered Jimbo’s bass, and picked it up and moved to center stage, where he wildly played the rest of the song with the band.

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

The Rev continued to rock the night away, playing classics like “The Devil’s Chasin’ Me”and newer songs off of Rev like “Zombie Dumb” and “Let Me Teach You How To Eat.” As the set went on, it was apparent that there was a renewed fire in the band’s belly. Former drummer Scott Churilla, after time away playing with The Supersuckers, has returned to the fold, and it was like peanut butter returning to jelly. The Rev’s partner-in-crime, bassist Jimbo Wallace, was fantastic as always, deftly giving the audience a lesson in playing the upright.

© Kristin Horgen

After “Let Me Teach…,” The Rev announced the next guest of the set, country/rockabilly honky-tonker Deke Dickerson. I have to be honest, I hadn’t heard any of Deke’s music before, and I quickly realized what a huge mistake I had made. Playing a gorgeous double-neck guitar, Deke started things off with a superb cover of Gene Autry’s “Mexicali Rose.”

They continued with Horton Heat’s “The Millionaire,” Deke’s “Big Guitar,” and the Jimmie Rodgers classic “Muleskinner Blues.” The whole time Deke was onstage was a treat, from his wit to his smooth voice, and having two guitar maestros onstage was pretty close to mind-blowing. They even switched it up at times, with Deke playing Jimbo’s bass and The Rev playing Deke’s dual guitar. To close Deke’s time onstage, he donned a goofy orange hat, jumped down into the barricade, and went into a killer version of The Ramones’ “Psycho Therapy.”

© Kristin Horgen

Deke exited, and The Rev kept the party going with “400 Bucks,” “Big Little Baby,” and the countryfied “Bales of Cocaine.” The set closed with the high-energy “Big Red Rocket of Love.” After a brief break, The Rev and company returned to the stage and played “the most obvious cover song in the history of rock and roll, and it’s not ‘Freebird.'”

He handed Jimbo his guitar, took the bass, and went into “Johnny B. Goode,” the crowd eagerly singing along. He continued with “Galaxie 500,” which included a fairly lengthy (a bit too lengthy) drum solo, and as the solo ended, Deke returned with the band and played Merle Haggard’s “Honky Tonk Night Time Man.” The band reprised “Galaxie 500” and bid the crowd goodnight.

© Kristin Horgen

I have to say, after seeing Reverend Horton Heat many times over the years, they’ve never sounded better, and the amazing Deke Dickerson made it a truly special evening. Seeing the smiles on all of the fans and musicians’ faces, I definitely wasn’t the only one who thought so.

We recently had a chance to catch up with Jim “The Rev” Heath and talk music, Texas and vinyl. Be sure to check it out

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

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© Kristin Horgen

NEKROMANTIX

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© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

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© Kristin Horgen

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THE CREEPSHOW

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© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

© Kristin Horgen

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