Surf, Psychobilly, and Southern Rock Collide at the Culture Room

Igor and the Red Elvises got the night off to a fun start with their hilarious lyrics, outrageous dancing, and rocky Russian surf music. If you aren’t familiar with them, just imagine an older, balding Russian man wearing a zebra print suit screaming “Bacon!” to a crowd, while his all-girl bandmates rock the drums, guitar, keyboard, and trumpet to epic, James Bond-style tunes. At first, the whole thing comes off as over-the-top zany, and it is — but it’s still freakin’ awesome.

Igor and his Red Elvises got everyone in the venue smiling, and even had our index fingers pointing in the air for “Closet Disco Dancer.” Igor Yuzov demanded everyone start a conga line during “Sad Cowboy Song," so of course, a throng of people began lining up. Attendance was a bit sparse inside the Culture Room at this point, which was a sad shame. If you do happen to see the Red Elvises coming into town again, be sure to check them out, if only so you can shout “Bacon” as loudly as possible with your fist in the air and not look like a total psycho.

The comical note changed to a raging one when Nashville Pussy entered the room. Even if you're not a metal head, this foursome is incredible to watch. The lead guitarist, Ruyter Suys, plays as if she’s possessed and making love to the guitar at the same time. She’s been known to strip down to her bra and underwear at shows, amongst a myriad of other wild things. On Friday, she just gave everyone in the audience a small preview by showing off a lot of cleavage. Looking around, most men were drooling beneath her feet — and a lot of women too. After the show, an ardent lady fan came up to Suys and told her, “You are my hero.” And with riffs like that, she might as well be today’s Wonder Woman.

One of the Nashville Pussy songs that stood out most was “Hate and Whiskey,” during which a bottle of Jack made an appearance. “Go Motherfucker Go” instigated the mosh pit, which went on throughout the rest of the night. Another highlight of this rowdy southern rock performance which lauded drugs, drinking, fighting, and rock 'n’ roll (not necessarily in that order) was when Blaine Cartwright poured his beer into his cowboy hat and then drank a few swigs and poured it all over his face. During the last song, Suys strummed so hard she broke five strings on her guitar. She did all except one because, she told us later, if you destroy all of them, the guitar breaks and that’s $250 out the window.

After Nashville Pussy left, the crew started to set up Reverend Horton Heat’s gear, which made everyone wonder if Unknown Hinson was going to show up, since he was on the tour list. When Jim Heath got to the stage, he announced he had a special surprise for later. Jim Heath’s first song was instrumental, which turned out to be the majority of his set. But he still sang a lot of his hits, including “Psychobilly Freakout” (the unofficial psychobilly anthem), “Galaxy 500,” and “Jimbo Song.” Every song fueled the moshing men and women in the pit. How do you compare rockabilly fans with southern rock 'n' roll fans? In this case, the crowd went way wilder when Reverend Horton Heat played, while the rockabillies attempted to mosh and dance with each other at the same time.

Heath’s style is playing long guitar solos and rocking tunes with just a few words as lyrics. A lot of Heath’s songs don’t go: verse, chorus, verse, bridge, like typical recordings that have a very clear beginning, middle, and end. Instead, he focuses on the intricacies of the guitar-playing with a solid theme and bounces back and forth between the riffs and phrases. Just listen to “Zombie Dumb” and you’ll understand.

Midway through his set, Heath unveiled his surprise and invited Unknown Hinson onto the stage to play with him. They did a few songs together, including the Johnny Cash cover “Folsom Prison Blues.” Stuart Baker channels Cash (and other country western stars) through his hair style and attire, complete with rodeo tailor coat and black ribbon necktie. The audience sang along loudly when Baker played the ballad “Your Man is Gay”.

After the big surprise, Reverend Horton Heat played a few more hits, and Unknown Hinson returned for the grand finale. Overall, we couldn’t have asked for a better show; all of the bands were incredible and made a strong connection with the psychobilly dance-moshing audience. 
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Michelle de Carion