Preaching to the choir

Rev. Horton Heat leads a rock-'n'-roll apocalypse at the Brick Works

CAT SCRATCH BEAVER <br>Lead guitarist Ruyter Suys of opening act Nashville Pussy proved that women can play “cock rock” just as well (if not better) than men at Tuesday’s packed and rowdy Rev. Horton Heat concert.

Lead guitarist Ruyter Suys of opening act Nashville Pussy proved that women can play “cock rock” just as well (if not better) than men at Tuesday’s packed and rowdy Rev. Horton Heat concert.

Photo by Tom Angel

I love the Reverend Horton Heat with the passion of a true believer. And neither the passion nor the belief have a hell of a lot to do with the man’s undeniably consummate mastery of his chosen instrument. What they do have to do with is the man’s obvious love of and willingly joyful subjugation to the soul-redeeming powers of big, loud electric rock ‘n’ roll.

And, boy oh boy, does he know how to choose his opening acts. Tuesday’s show at the Brick Works, for instance, was resoundingly kicked of by the obnoxiously loud Texas trio Honky, who came out wearing overgrown hillbilly goatees and bent-brimmed cowboy hats and playing over-amped variations of recycled ZZ Top/punk riffs, with their vocals/lyrics buried somewhere in the subsonics. Their most redeeming feature was the obvious joy passing among the musicians as they pushed their Marshall amps to the threshold of auditory pain.

Not exactly horrible, but a whole lot of us were impatiently waiting to see the legendary Nashville Pussy, so the “quality” of Honky only served to fuel our impatience. Which was paid off in spades once NP unpretentiously sauntered on to the stage and brought their instruments and the audience’s attention to a boil by tuning up at full volume.

The formerly empty dance floor filled with moshing maniacs in the blink of an eye, and Nashville Pussy proceeded to provide everything an adolescent rock-'n'-roll fantasist could hope for. Itemized, that would be: (1) ear-bustingly exquisite lead guitar played by foxy, progressively unclad, head-banging blonde madwoman Ruyter Suys; (2) undulating breasts of same miraculously not escaping from inexplicably adhesive bra; and (3) chubby, balding Blaine Cartwright with Fu Manchu facial hair and a big bawdy voice expounding in a smirkingly gnostic manner about getting thrown out of the house for “snorting coke with the sister and having sex with the mother” of the girlfriend. I mean really, what could be more low-rent rock ‘n’ roll than that?

OK, maybe an alluring, snake-hipped bass player who can bend over backwards farther than most limbo champs while never missing a driving beat and the aforementioned blonde guitar-worshipper, who never actually got totally naked but who did do a revelatory, underwear-clad, feedback-drenched striptease encore that pretty well wiped out the audience and hopefully made Jimi Hendrix spin rapturously in his grave.

But, regardless of the sex-fantasy-powered thrill so generously provided by Nashville Pussy, the real reason for going to Tuesday’s show was the opportunity to see Jim Heath, aka Rev. Horton Heat, fire up that big, beautiful electric Gretsch guitar of his and start reeling off mutated honky-tonk licks like there’s no tomorrow. Which is exactly what he did.

Grinning and bearing the antics of the crowd-surfing moshers who continually threatened to catastrophically wash up on the shore of the stage, the Rev spun out a seemingly endless stream of psychedelic, mutated rockabilly guitar licks, all delivered with a gruesomely sincere smile to the fanatics in the front row.

From the raunched-up, revved up rockabilly of “Fucked Up Ford” to the instrumentally Venturous encore number “Psychobilly Freakout,” the good Rev and his cohorts Jimbo (bass) and Scott Churilla (drums) made us all ecstatically glad to be moshing on the dance floor or bouncing on the rungs of our second-story barstools while shouting at the top of our lungs for more, louder, faster rock ‘n’ roll.

As long as there’s Heat and Pussy in the house, rock-'n'-roll heaven is right here on Earth.