REVEREND HORTON HEAT with BARE JR. at the Horseshoe, August 3. Tickets: $25. Attendance: 350. Rating: NNN
the light-up sign with goofy scrolling messages propped up on Bobby Bare Jr.'s amp looked like it might be a distraction. And after the first two Bare Jr. songs, it was clear that was the whole reason for the gimmick. The band, who looked like they'd fallen off a turnip truck, didn't have enough charisma among them to keep the crowd focused on the stage, so they brought along a little electronic assistance. It worked for about 10 seconds, at which point Reverend Horton Heat's following, proudly displaying their tattoos, went back to chugging pitchers in preparation for the main event.
Although many came styled in vague approximations of 50s looks (for some that meant a dab of hair gel and hooking a dog-chain on their belt loop, while others shelled for the full bowling/maintenance shirt and creepers ensemble), it wasn't really what could be called a hardcore rockabilly audience. That made sense, since what the Reverend Horton Heat crew played at the Horseshoe wasn't really rockabilly anyway.
Sure, there was some jump blues left over from the swing revival, a bit of triple-time boogie and a lot of good-natured hayseed rock and roll, but it was all devoid of that bluesy grind that gives rockabilly its swagger.
When you think about it, the sound of Reverend Horton Heat is actually closer in form to Motörhead than to anything cut by Johnny Burnette or Charlie Feathers, which is probably why the few folks who felt compelled to move during the encore weren't shaking their hips, but pogoing.
That's about right.