The Reverend Horton Heat. First introduced to me by Dalton at Erdman back in the factory days. We saw him on King street days 2 years ago (with Wayne Hancock). It was awesome! Here was the review of that show:
This time around he was playing the High Noon Saloon. I was going to go with Bret, whom I saw The Psychedelic Furs with. Sadly, pre-show, he fell victim to some ice in the driveway and was out. Sorry Bret! It was the start of a peak and valley night. I came home and fell into a coma on the couch and my 50 year old brain considered not going. I blame it on the Taco Bell feast I had on the way home. About 8pm I drew on my inner strength to get up, change clothes and hit the road. I arrived at the high Noon at 8:29 and to my incredible surprise found a spot in the parking lot directly across from the entrance. Score! I tossed my coat in the car and headed to the door, only to find that the pile of people outside weren’t all just smokers, they were the crowd for the show. They didn’t have the doors open as sound check was still going on. We didn’t get in until 8:45. I was cold, but warmed at the prospect that I was soon going to be seeing the Rev.
Once inside and soothed by warm bar air, I scoped for a show poster. There was one on the door for both Ha Ha Tonka and The Rev, but the incoming line was thronging the area and so I checked the walls and bathroom. No dice. Luckily, I was able to score one when we went to see The Bob Marley Birthday Bash. It is a bit abused, but it still counts.
My theory of getting there at 7 would have been a huge bust, so note to self for later shows. Also a bust was my idea of getting a table in the back balcony. There is about 2 tables that do not have an obstructed view up there. Nice if you want to hear and don’t care about seeing so much. I decided that even though there was a spot a table dead center, I would just do the floor. My feet are not made for extended standing anymore, but I had a feeling that since the show was sold out (which I heard while WSUM interviewed Ha Ha Tonka on the way home) my choices were wallflower with no view, or suck it up and stand in front. The crowd up front was lean and spread out and I decided to make a go of it.
After a quick check of the merch table and an agonizing decision over vinyl or sticks… I decided on sticks autographed by Scott.
As I walked away I considered what a poor choice buying them now had been. I stuck them in my back pocket and up my shirt. For half an hour I kept thinking that someone was bumping into me or tapping me on the back when no one was even close.
Then I got an icy Sprecher’s Root Beer (one drink and sip it… once The Rev started there was no leaving with any possibility of return) and staked a claim just off dead center (remembering that The Rev played off to stage right a bit) right at the front of the stage. It was a weird wait for the show. It occurred to me that this was the first time I had been to a show alone. Hmm. I sat on the stage for a while, facing a crowd of strangers. Behind me there was a woman who had come from Milwaukee just to see Ha Ha Tonka. Next to me on the left was a blonde pompadour wearing guy who looked rough and scary, but was actually very cool talked to me about The Rev and ended up next to me at the front. He and I were dead center in front of The Rev the whole show. We exchanged that look that look when something awesome happened on stage like “Did you see that man! Holy shit! That was cool!”… you know that look. On my right was a couple that had seen The Rev a lot and were stoked beyond words to be down front for a change. Pompadour and repeat couple were great buffers from some crazy dancers to the left and right that would have been annoying. So thank you strangers.
One of the band members of Ha Ha Tonka came out and was talking with a group of folks off to my right, old friends apparently. He looked at the stage rig and suggested that they might want to get earplugs, that it was going to be very loud were they were. I thought about going to the merch table, since I forgot mine, but decided my place up front was too fragile and I would tough it out.
It was loud. He was not wrong. I am writing this in the afternoon of the next day and I still hear the ocean a bit in quiet moments. No worse than after L7 though, so I’m cool.
I took out my new smaller camera, the one I bought specifically to bring to shows, turned it on to take a picture of the Reverend Horton Heat banner hanging in back of the stage, and was deeply saddened to discover that evidently I had removed the memory card to download at some point and not returned it.
Sigh. My trusty camera phone was going to have to do.
Here is my “I was here” shot. I felt like an idiot taking a selfie instead of a shot of me and my show bud, but what is a fella to do. I am a documentarian of sorts after all. I am not sleeping, just blinking from that flash. I didn’t notice or I may have taken another. Ah well.
Ha Ha Tonka took that stage right about on time. I immediately discovered just how close I really was. I couldn’t get the whole band in one shot!
The opening song was completely NOT like the one song of theirs that I had heard on High Noon Saloon radio, which was “Lessons”. I liked that song, but the song they opened with was a shot to the system. The drums, which were no lie, right in front of me, were pounding my heart for me. The guy on the mandolin was wailing, the acoustic guitar/singer was wailing and the bass and far right guitar guy who had talked to friends in the audience was wailing. I was blown away. The second song was great too. I couldn’t make out much of the vocals, not because of the mix, but the sheer volume and my location. People half way back were in the sweet spot for this show.
Ha Ha Tonka is from the Ozarks and as they played I could pick out the influence, which was not exactly country, but had a sort of back roads feel, and they liked to change the pace and then come back to the driving beat. It was very cool. They played a couple songs and then the mandolin player switched to guitar.
Again, he wailed.
The bass player was making cool bass player moves, which seems obligatory, and he was wearing his hat with style.
He was fun to watch. He also had a super deep voice on back up vocals. The whole band looked like they were having fun, which I love. The acoustic guitarist/vocalist had a good voice and I really liked their set.
They slowed it down for a version of “Hangman” which I knew as “Gallows Pole” by Led Zeppelin, but is a traditional song.
It was a-capella. They did a great job.
The drummer was pounding it out and my vantage point was very close and I was digging watching how he worked.
Ha Ha Tonka is a great live band. They did “Lessons” and it was awesome. The song itself is kind of drony (in a good way) and the live version had plenty of solos in it by the mandolin/guitar player.
They ended the show with a rousing version of Tom Petty’s “American Girl”. It was fantastic. They took their bows and thanked Madison, then started packing their stuff. Immediately the crowd pushed forward, which was a little claustrophobic, but soon we all found our space and settled into a tight but temperate group.
The stage change over went quickly and they taped the setlist to the stage floor right in front of me. Setlists are cool. Am I right?!
There was a flurry of excited audience members politely coming forward to take pictures of it. What is it about them? I don’t know for sure, but they make a nice keepsake if you can score one.
They uncovered the drums.
and Jimbo came out to set up his final parts.
J I M B O !
My secret other instrument in a band would be this. The stand up bass. I guess you could say that I a rhythm section junkie. No offense Rev. You are fantastic of course.
The Rev uses this old style microphone and Gretsch guitars and amps and . It all fits the look and feel of the show. Old time, but rev’d up.
Then the stage cleared and after an appropriate suspense building duration, out they came and plugged in. The Rev was literally within arms reach of me. The show began!
The first song was a flurry of fingers. Scott was pounding the drums and even though he was at the back of the stage I could still feel it like when Ha Ha Tonka played. Jimbo was slapping away and it all meshed into a killer sound. The crowd was going crazy. Having the set list taped in front of me was a bonus. I knew the names of all the songs, even the new ones from the new album. He followed the setlist to the letter until near the end. He threw a couple others in and skipped “Bales”. Interesting.
When I first heard The Rev’s songs from CD’s I kind of considered him a novelty. I had no idea what rockabilly was except for Stray Cats, which true rockabilly fans might balk at. What strikes me about The Rev is that when you see him and you really see him play that awesome Gretsch guitar you realize how talented he really is. You could say that the first time I went to see him on King Street it was for the novelty, but I am back now because the music and the show is all around fantastic. It was a total gas to be so damn close and see the way he was hitting the chords and moving his hands in a way you can’t see from the balcony or through a hundred heads.
The Rev moved around a lot, so I got a good set of action shots and different perspectives with my trusty camera phone. The lighting was good too so that really helped out.
and I took advantage of my stage front position to get some interesting angles you can’t get anywhere else.
I call that one Psychobilly Freakout Angle!
The Rev does a great job of mixing old and new songs and tempos. The whole band is tight too. You can tell that they have been playing together for years and years. The whole scene was amazing and even though I have seen this before, I just about busted a lung screaming when Jimbo brought his bass down front and laid it down and the Rev climbed on top and played from there while Jimbo kept playing the bass throughout. It was awesome. I discovered though that I was too close to get a shot of the whole thing… so I did some crude photo mashing.
Jimbo never missed a note. Then they did later their photo op pose. The ole back-to-back. Like the buddy cop movie of music. Everyone loved it of course.
The Rev’s suit was a throwback style and check out his shoes.
The drawback to seeing the setlist is that I could tell how much of the show was over as each song concluded. The song “Zombie Dumb”, from the new album was great. It was just a jam with a small vocal break every so often where The Rev would stop the music and simply say “zombie dumb” and then crash back into the music. Then he would make some grunts and hoots. It was a fun song.
At Johnny B. Goode the was some instrument swapping. Jimbo played The Rev’s guitar while The Rev played bass. Again, I have seen this before, but damn, it is fantastic!
The Rev even had moves on the bass.
Then they switched back after a good round of applause for Jimbo on guitar.
The end of the set came too quickly, and we waited for the encore with stomping feet and whistles and hoots. Rev Rev Rev!
They came back out and launched into it again.
and a drum solo happened. It was great. I was glad I got the sticks.
The show was so good. The only blemish was a bunch of moshing that broke out during “Galaxy 500” which pushed into Pompadour Guy next to me, who took care of it pretty effectively. Otherwise, despite being up front there were no issues and I got some great pictures and enjoyed a fantastic show. Ultimately, Rev set down his guitar and the show was over. There was some pic throwing and some handshaking. I got to shake Jimbo’s hand and the Rev’s hand too. Another benefit of being down front.
I am told that they sometimes hang around and sign stuff, but it was time for this old man to head home. Not however, until I scored one of the 2 setlists!
I know, when you think about it, the setlist could have been printed by anyone. The High Noon staff could have printed it for the band, or the roadies, I mean it’s not like it was hand written by the Rev himself, but it still makes a nice memento of the evening.
In all it was a fantastic show and if the Rev comes back to town, you will probably see me there. His shows are a feast for the eyes and ears.
Bravo Rev and Scott and of course Jimbo.