Dec 5, 2012

X / The Reverend Horton Heat - Soundstage

By Bob Suehs

X / Reverend Horton Heat / Not In The Face

December 5, 2012

Baltimore, Maryland


This one ended up being a last minute deal, I set it up on a whim and sometimes the nights you expect NOTHING special are the nights you see the most amazing players onstage & you walk away going “Wow!”

The temperature was slowly dropping outside on this eve and by the time I left the show just a tad after midnight it was cold as hell & windy yet inside the venue it was warm and a weird mix of old punk & rockabilly...this tour really should have been endorsed by Gretch guitars too because X & The Reverend use Gretch guitars exclusively which create that tone that makes both artists so distinct!

The show started promptly at 8 PM with Not In the Face delivering their style of Southern fried hick rock and the first thing I noticed was the fact that they were a 3 piece band with NO bass...they had 2 guitarists & a drummer so the tone was very tremble soaked yet the 2 guitars did fill it in enough so you didn’t miss the low end bass that most bands have.

Musically Not In The Face mix up 50’s rock n roll with 70’s hard rock so they are kind like a weird mix of T-Rex meets The White Stripes...they look very rednecky & come off looking dirty & grimy with bad facial hair, dirty looking clothes & gear that looks like it’s been road worn for decades yet they impressed me with their intense rock n roll show that relied strictly on their playing...these guys have passion for the music they play!

The Reverend Horton Heat was up next & Jim and the boys played a one hour set that quenched my thirst for some damn fine guitar playing that mixed hard rock & 50’s rock n roll perfectly.

The First thing to point out is Horton Heat has a new/old drummer who was previously in The Super Suckers!

As a guitar player I watched Jim’s techniques closely and he’s legit! The Rev’s playing is spot on, clean & he uses a clean guitar tone which doesn’t allow for too many flubs or mistakes....when Jim plays his leads you can hear every note and he’s a very clean player who makes not one mistake and his fills are full on Scotty Moore styled with a touch of punk in parts that add the energy to the music Horton Heat plays.

In the set were 2 covers; Chuck Berry’s “Johnny Be Goode” & a Johnny Cash number.....if you’ve never heard The Reverend Horton Heat before those 2 artists sum up what the band sounds like 100%!

X were the nights headliner and their stage was minimal, Billy had a 1/2 stack on the left side of the stage, there was a small bass cab & the drum set was the largest piece of equipment on the stage.

X are like a more punk rock version of the B-52’s because each song switches off vocals between the different members & most of their music veers in different directions...the core sound is punk BUT there’s pop mixed in as well and “White Girl” was probably my favorite song of the night while “Devil Doll” was the nights closer!

Towards the end of the set they did an unplugged number which surprised me because I didn’t think a band like X would sound good unplugged BUT they actually did!

The crowd was really into the X set and I was surprised to see mini mosh pits breaking out mostly because the audience was rather old & seeing older men & women mosh is rather tame compared to when kiddies do it!

All in all this was a great billing of bands that all fit nicely together and the common bond between all 3 bands was the fact that they all featured guitarists that clearly knew how to play old school rock n roll quite well although I will admit that the guitarist for X, Billy Zoom...he stares & smiles so freakin’ much during their live show that he creeps me out at times because he’s smiling like a serial killer & he does it the ENTIRE show!

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