The Scene: The Gothic Theatre was warm on Monday; the blasting heat was welcome on such a chilly night. The crowd was a mix of hipsters and punks–Reverend Horton Heat is a Psychobilly band, so it wasn’t your average Punk show. One obvious indication of this was the excess of women present wearing skirts. There were a few Mohawks, hipster cuts among the men, and many girls rocked pinup styles. The crowd was a mixed bag that night, half of the crowd was sweaty and seemed to be having the time of their lives, the other half seemed disinterested and aloof. The contrast was visually striking as fashion punks jammed out next to dreadlocked hippies wearing tie-dye. There were lots of punks wearing glasses, for once not afraid that they would get knocked off and broken during some violent interaction.
Opener: In the Whale. Denver local band In the Whale kicked off the show on Monday. The group is composed of only two members, Nate Valdez and Eric Riley, with Valdez on guitar and vocals, and Riley on drums and backup vocals. The crowd seemed to have heard them before, there were several people singing along. They played an edgier Rock and Roll that at times sounded more like Metal due Riley’s background screams. The sound quality was good, and it was easy to make out the lyrics, which is not always the case at this venue. The band quickly won over the audience; Riley made several jokes, once saying that there was a mailing list at the merchandise booth for backstage access for the ladies. In the Whale played a few unrecorded tracks, “Robert Johnson” and “Lake of Fire,” and “Woman” from their album Cake, as well as “On a Roll” from their latest album Eric. The band had full audience support, and even Joey “Balls” Garibaldi, bassist for Old Man Markley, came out to jam to the bands’ last two songs, snapping a picture for posterity.
Opener: Old Man Markley. Old Man Markley played their first-ever set at the Gothic to a crowd that seemed unfamiliar with the music. The seven-piece band plays an unusual mix of Bluegrass and Punk; singer and guitarist John Carey and bassist Joey Garibaldi were both in the influential punk band Youth Brigade. Old Man Markley usually plays with punk bands (“Fat Mike” Burkett took them on tour with his band NoFX five times) and although most of the audience did not know the music, one cannot help but appreciate the amazing performance the band always gives.
The band played an unreleased instrumental first, then “Party Shack.” Annie DeTemple (Autoharp, vocals) and Katie Weed (fiddle, mandolin, backup vocals) looked as hot as ever, sporting their usual cowgirl boots and adorable lacy outfits. Singer John Carey’s megawatt smile was energetic and contagious. Carey commented on the state’s (then upcoming) complete legalization of marijuana to loud cheers from the audience before playing the next song, “Train of Thought.” The crowd loved “For Better, For Worse” and laughed and whistled at the end of the song; Carey had changed the lyrics to make the sought after girl in the song a lesbian. The band played “Guts ‘N Teeth,” then DeTemple sang “Come Around Here,” her sweet voice was a treat for the audience. Carey dedicated the next song, “Blindfold” to everyone in the audience who hated their job.
Garibaldi’s bass is a four-string wash-bin tub with a plunger attached to the bottom, and he jumps around during the band’s performances, somehow able to jump all over the stage and play a killer bass line simultaneously. OMM played “Blood On My Hands” next to a crowd that seemed to enjoy the band more after each song. The moshpit area turned into a drunken hoedown during “Killing Time,” and then DeTemple did an amazing rendition of “Do Me Like You Do.” The band does amazing covers, and dedicated “The Science of Myth” by Screeching Weasel to the punk rock fans that had come to see them. During “In A Circle Going Round” the band (minus the mega-talented drummer Jeff Fuller) danced around one another in a mini-hoedown, always putting on a great show. “Living and Learning” followed with a supreme performance by John Rosen on the banjo. Old Man Markley finished their set with “Struggling” to which the crowd chanted and fist-pumped and gave the band a tremendous round of applause. Before they left the stage they announced the release of a two-song 7” coming soon, one side is an original track and the other is a cover of a Punk-Rock classic.
Reverend Horton Heat: When the main act took their place on the stage, the first thing noticed was the impressive instruments that the band played. Jim Heath aka Reverend Horton Heat rocked out with a Gretsch guitar and amp combo, the guitar alone is sold online for a whopping $4750, and is named after the Reverend himself, having been tailored to his personal specs. Jimbo Wallace’s Gretsch T-bone steak patterned bass and drummer Scott Churilla’s sparkling red drums also looked pricey. The vocals sounded great over the old-school broadcast microphones the band played with. When the band first came on stage, the screams rumbled through the theater from the front to the back bar, fans welcoming the main attraction. The band sounded great when you could hear it–the levels were unfortunately low. The detriment wasn’t tremendous, however the band did drown Heath’s voice out at a few points.
During the first couple songs lots of audience members took videos and many were seen checking in on Facebook, wanting the world to know how ecstatic they were to be there. The mosh pit was awkward at times, with people flailing their arms about, but it eventually turned into a “swing-pit” where people aggressively swing danced. Heath played several songs off of his upcoming album Rev including “Victory Lap” (he opened with this), “Never Gonna Stop It,” “Spooky Boots,” and “Let Me Teach You How To Eat.” Rev is the 11th album to be released by the band, and as it is set to come out on January 21st; fans were unfamiliar with the tracks but were obviously enjoying the new material. Heath later commented on the bands’ album Space Heater as being recognized as the worst album the band has put out (they only played “Jimbo Song” from this album), and jokingly said that Rev was going to be even worse.
By the time the fourth song came on an actual pit had emerged, making some of the people in the front nervous, so they eventually moved to the back, out of harms’ way. The mosh pit maxed out during the “Jimbo Song,” but was tame in relation to other punk shows. Heath had a lot of stage presence but did not interact with the crowd very often, speaking only a few times during the long set, Heath was reserved and somber, and was seldom smiling throughout the show. The band played several covers; OMM drummer, Jeff Fuller, said later that the set was different from the first shows during the tour and had several obscure and seldom played songs. During one of the covers, “Run Run Rudolph,” (by Chuck Berry) Heath and Wallace switched guitars, and couples started slow dancing and swapping kisses, Heath had somehow triggered romance with the tune.
The band played a great set; from the first album they played “Psychobilly Freakout,” and “Marijuana,” (a song that originally wasn’t on the set list, but was perfect for the crowd at hand) during which the soon to be legal herb was smelled throughout the theater. From The Full Custom Gospel Sounds of the Reverend Horton Heat, they played “400 Bucks,” “The Devil’s Chasing Me,” “Bales of Cocaine”; from Liquor in the Front they played “Baddest of the Bad” and “Rockin’ Dog.” Heath also played the title track from It’s Martini Time as well as “Big Red Rocket of Love” and “Spend a Night in the Box” the title track from the band’s sixth album. From Lucky 7 they played “Like a Rocket” and “Galaxy 500” (during the encore) and “Indigo Friends” from Revival. To top it off, the band played “Oh By Jingo!” a Chet Atkins cover, “Rock the Joint” a Bill Haley cover, and “Honky Tonk Night Time Man” by Merle Haggard. Reverend Horton Heat finished the evening with “Galaxy 500 (Reprise)”. Contrary to Heath’s jokes about the new album, the material he played was solid; look for Rev in stores on January 21st, longtime fans will not be disappointed.
Stage Presence: B
Set/Light Show: A-