Live: The Reverend Horton Heat at Culture Room, October 20

The ​Reverend Horton Heat
With Supersuckers and Dan Sartain
The Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
Thursday, October 20, 2011

Better Than: Waiting for Saturday night to start the honky tonkin'.

"Rock 'n' roll is here to stay; it will never die." Danny and the Juniors were fucking right, ace. Last night at the Culture Room, Birmingham's Dan Sartain, Tucson's Supersuckers, and

Dallas' the Reverend Horton Heat gave a wild Fort Lauderdale crowd a much-needed rock 'n' roll schooling.

Thirty minutes after showtime, the room was practically empty. The smoke machines were going, a GBH video was playing on a big screen, and a handful of near-middle-aged punks were headbanging along with the sights and sounds coming from the DVD player. If no one would've shown up, these dudes probably wouldn't have noticed. Before the first band even started, they were having the best time.

A pizza greaser with Dee Dee Ramone's face and Elvis Presley's pomade got on stage and quietly said, "Hi, I'm Dan." Seconds later, Dan Sartain belted out a classic Dee Dee "1-2-3-4!" and kept on calling out those numbers until his set was done -- well, one time it was "1-2-3-4-5-6!" Sartain and his band played a string of two-chord -- maximum three -- punk songs without pause. They played brilliantly simple rock 'n' roll, perfect for chewing gum to. There were no solos, no bass noodles, and no crazy drum fills; lots of those would come later in the night. As the crowd trickled in, people began privately bopping to the rudimentary beat.

Not too long after Sartain performed, the Supersuckers stormed the stage with Les Pauls a-blazin'. The crowd had arrived, and the Supersuckers fed them a buffet of American rock riffs, over-the-top showboating, and punk-rock stage choreography. 

The smoke machines, laser lights, and blasted crowd gave frontman Eddie Spaghetti's power stance and lofty claims validity and purpose -- especially when he repeatedly proclaimed "Thank you for coming to see the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world, the Supersuckers!" He took a pause during the last verse of "Born With a Tail" to ask the crowd to extend their middle fingers proudly in the air. He whipped out his phone and took a photo of the hundreds of vulgar birds.

The Supersuckers love rock 'n' roll and all its clichés. They love rock 'n' roll so much, half their songs are about rock 'n' roll, and half of those have the words rock 'n' roll in their title. Lead guitarist Dan Bolton played a few solos behind his head, second guitarist Marty Chandler killed time between riffs combing his golden hair, and silver-haired drummer Scott Churilla's ten-minute drum solo would put Tommy Lee or Neil "60 Piece Drum Kit" Peart to shame.

The sight of an upright bass guitar on stage was enough to drive the fans into a frenzy. The speedball of rock music and whiskey shots was doing its job well. When the Reverend launched into the first of many psychobilly freak-outs, the room got dangerous. As they picked and plucked through their country-western-on-meth songs, people were moshing with slippery violence.

It took three security guards to take down one guy who apparently didn't get Chad Gilbert's "no-asshole" memo; this dude was punching everything around him and seemed genuinely surprised when the security guards tackled him. The Reverend rolled his eyes and kept on singing. After playing one song from each of their nine albums -- of which the Reverend declared Space Heater as the "worst record we ever made" -- he asked the crowd for some requests. Not surprisingly, there was an overwhelming request for "Bales of Cocaine." He prefaced the song with a story about an ex-wife sending him on errand to pick up a "package at the airport."

He's been playing as the Reverend for more than 25 years, so his voice was a little whispery and worn when he sung about love, loneliness, alcohol, cocaine, and self-pity. His guitar playing was faster than the strobe lights, though. His stage antics were pretty sharp too -- he climbed on the upright bass a couple of times. 

Their set "ended" two or three times, only to by followed by encore after welcome encore. The Reverend smiled and near the end of the last encore pleaded, "Somebody stop me! I need help! I don't know when to quit!"

Critic's Notebook:

The crowd: Lots of older punk-rock veterans, including South Florida legend Bobby Load. Surprisingly, there were very few people dressed in rockabilly outfits.

Random detail: There was a lady high on something that must be the exact opposite of ecstasy. She looked angry, horny, and murderous.

Overheard in the crowd: "Did you know I have this band's poster on my wall?"

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Jose Flores
Contact: Jose Flores