Friday Night: Reverend Horton Heat at House of Blues

Reverend Horton Heat House of Blues November 23, 2012

"I think somebody just threw beer on me," Jim "Reverend Horton" Heath said to the crowd, 30 minutes into his band's set, almost absent-mindedly tuning his guitar as the crowd booed their disapproval. "At these punk rock shows now, everyone throws beer... Here's the thing: The first thing you learn in kindergarten is, 'Don't throw stuff.' And the first thing you learn in college is, 'Don't waste beer.'"

Who can argue with that?

To be honest, I'm not too familiar with psychobilly. The only firsthand experience I have had with the genre was a Nekromantix show two years ago at the Warsaw (now the Engine Room again) downtown. It was a lot of fun, but it just wasn't enough of to really sell me on the genre.

Friday night, though, Reverend Horton Heat proved to be quite the salesman, perhaps the best the genre has to offer. He sold me on his music and, had the merch booth accepted credit cards, I would have bought a T-shirt and an album as well.

Only 24 hours had passed since Thanksgiving Day, and while fans were probably still stuffed full of turkey, ham and cranberry sauce, they shook off the tryptophan-induced stupor and got to steppin' to give the Reverend a proper sendoff before he, standup bassist Jimbo Wallace and drummer Scott Churilla continue their tour around America.

The Dallas band may not be from Houston, but these boys won't be back in Texas until February. And anyone who knows and loves Texas knows how rough that can be.

Every song Reverend Horton Heat performed was either catchy enough to make the crowd dance, or the lyrics were biting, witty and made us laugh. Usually the songs were a mix of both, so I'm not surprised these guys have been around for 25 years. I only wish I had discovered them sooner.

The Reverend and crew performed songs from almost all ten of their studio albums, including "Galaxie 500," "It's Martini Time" and, of course, "Psychobilly Freakout." They even threw in a few covers: Chuck Berry's "Johnny B Goode," Johnny Cash's "Big River" and Willie Nelson's "Hello Walls," which was first made famous by Faron Young before Willie reclaimed it as his own.

During "Johnny B Goode," the Reverend even switched instruments with Wallace, giving the crowd a taste of his own ability on the standup bass. Wallace held his own on the guitar, too.

Forty-five minutes into the show, a thought occurred to me as the band began to play "Drinking and Smoking Cigarettes": It's a shame you can't light up inside anymore.

Personal Bias: I grew up on country music. I think I would have liked it a lot more had I been introduced to these guys sooner.

Overheard In the Crowd: "Seriously, man. Just legalize marijuana across the board!"

Random Notebook Dump: Psychobilly makes me want to grow mutton chops.

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