MARCH 10th 2016

Review by Lana Muirhead
Photos by Peter Ruttan

Phot Gallery:

My excitement had been building a while leading up to March 10 when I finally got to see Revered Horton Heat live at the Rickshaw. I missed them the last few times they circled through town and all I could hear was the whirlwind of finger wagging at me for not having born witness to date. Well fuckers: it finally happened. I missed out on what was a supposedly surprisingly entertaining set by the one-man Lincoln, but was able to hit up the Legendary Shack Shakers to kick things off.  If you’ve never seen this band of hooligans, you need to get your ass to their next show.  Frontman and harmonica maniac Col. JD Wilkes, guitarist extraordinaire Rod Hamdallah, upright bassist Fuller Condon and drummer Preston Corn collided on stage to present one of the most high energy, down and dirty, Podunk rockabilly performances I have ever seen.

If you haven’t already heard of Wilkes’ antics, you can expect moves like Jagger, screams like JL Lewis, stripteases like a pin-up, and floor rolls like an antsy teen on hallucinogens. Though the beat never slowed the entire set, and I couldn’t make out many of the lyrics, I had no need for translation about what was going on on stage. The vibe of the crowd and the palpable energy coming from the band was enough to carry me through to next month.  Every tune climaxed with some wild Wilkes debauchery, and Hamdallah tore through the rockabilly riffs with unsurpassed intensity, all while making it look like child’s play. Condon didn’t stop slapping his upright while Corn rounded things out with speedy drum play. The majority of the folks making up the crowd (which had country bumpkins alongside Goths, punks and regular joes) were seasoned Shack Shaker sublimates and happily if not greedily absorbed every note. For this band, which combines country, blues, rock, swamp and punk-ish elements, the show is the thing.

Next the lights darkened and the Reverend set himself to playing. Jim “Reverend Horton” Heath and his guitar were joined by bandmates Jimbo Wallace (upright bass) and Scott Churilla (drums) while they burned through tunes like “Psychobilly Freakout”, “Bales of Cocaine”, newbie “Zombie Dump”, “the Devil’s Chasing Me”, “Jimbo Song”, “400 bucks”, “Let Me Teach You How To Eat”, “Smell of Gasoline” and of course, a cover of “Folsom Prison Blues”.

Now all you metalheads out there wondering what the fuck we’re doing covering this show, let me tell you: these dudes can ROCK! Not only relentless and merciless on stage, but fun, skilled, and significant musicians. Any music fan out there knows there’s really nothing new to be done on the scene: it’s a matter of re-hashing the good old shit and re-packaging it to look shiny, new, and with a twist of bourbon. These guys have taken rockabilly, psychobilly, rock, metal light, country and 100% attitude to form the bucking bronco known as Reverend Horton Heat. Although his reputation preceded him, Unknown Hinson was brought out about 2/3 of the way through the show and things went right country.  That was about the only disagreement I could have had with the night.  A talented guitarist and a character all his own, UH just brought the show down a different path that the crowd was not prepared to go.

Thankfully, the ‘Heat got back at it and with no remorse brought us all back around to a hollering hootenanny close.  Instrumentally, everyone on stage was a master at his craft. Heath played the guitar the way you’d expect a dude with nothing else to do could play: bloody well. Wallace worked his bass like a man used to making his fingers do the talking and Churilla was so complacently cool his playing was almost transcendent.  Little nuances like stick flips as a matter of course and drum kicks like his toes were made for tapping kept the rhythm hot and hard start to finish.

I like my old time rock’n’roll. This kind of music is the stuff that my dad and I could agree on being a kid of the classic rock/metal days. This night in Vancouver, the Rev preached, and the crowd didn’t just listen: they believed.