Last Night: HorrorPops at Meridian

HorrorPops, Roger Miret & the Disasters, Applicators
October 7, 2007

Better Than: Anything Tiger Army will ever do, on their best day, with faith and the wind at their back, Rick Rubin at the board and Dean Moriarty at the wheel.

Download: “Caught in a Blonde” from Bring it On!, for a savory chunk of pop vitriol that wasn’t played Sunday night. The Applicators and Disasters were a brilliant choice to open for HorrorPops: the former’s tart-yet-stout garage-punk and the latter’s no-bullshit, gabba-gabba-hey street rock are bookends for HorrorPops’ sound. HorrorPops never set out to rule the psychobilly roost; they just opted for tight songcraft with minimal abrasion. This is not harsh music; neither does it lack grit. And I dare anyone who hears vocalist/bassist Patricia Day’s “Hey hey hey” on “Undefeated” to tell me it didn’t make them think of Axl Rose’s howling on “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” Is there any current touring band more purely glam than HorrorPops?

No. After Disasters’ blistering set, HP’s set-up began, notable because Day’s white upright bass was itself applauded when rolled out on stage. (Beautiful.) When the Pops – Day, guitarist Kim Nekroman (of Nekromantix fame and Day’s husband), drummer Henrik Neidermeier and two legitimate go-go dancers clad in white outfits with black skeletons – took the stage and began burning through “Freaks in Uniform,” an underage girl screamed in my ear and I saw big guys down front start to pogo. Not much else can be said about a HorrorPops crowd, so it’s easy to surmise the band’s success.

“Hit ‘N Run” followed soon after, as did a few Jager shots. Then they played the aforementioned “Undefeated” and were rewarded by the Applicators bringing out another round of shots.

HorrorPops are a muscular three-piece, period, with palpable chemistry. The band doesn’t seem to have suffered for second guitarist Geoff Kresge’s departure. This is where the upright comes in handy: musically, Day’s bass covers a lot of the middle area, freeing up Nekroman’s guitar to dance all over the higher frequencies. They never missed a step, through rippers like “S.O.B.,” allegedly written in Texas – “Put your foot on that monitor,” said Day to Nekroman, “and assume the Rock Position” – and skank-fest “It’s Been So Long.” By the time Nekroman was ready to take his introductory guitar solo, a solid section across the back of the room had cleared. And harkening back to the pre-show instrument applause, the crowd began a “bass” chant, eagerly awaiting Day’s turn in the spotlight.

For an encore, the couple switched instruments and sauntered back onstage to a hearty “Hell yeah” chant, then shot into a floor-rattling romp through “Psycho Bitches Out of Hell,” crowd favorite “Walk Like a Zombie,” and “Bring It On.” Genres and sub-genres don’t matter when three excellent bands take you under their wing for a night. As for any questions of scene loyalty, anyone who didn’t leave feeling better shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Personal Bias: Go-go dancers + cheap-thrills rock = the way I’d like to spend every Sunday night hereafter.

Random Detail: During the final few songs of The Disasters’ set, local rockabilly mavens Big E and Nester did their best to start a circle pit. It failed, but ended in them, myself and at least 30 other people pumping fists with a primal abandon I’ve not known since I last saw Agent Orange.

By the Way: I followed some buddies backstage. We sat and did “backstage things” until security removed everyone who wasn’t “with the band,” the irony being that we were sent into the main room, where both Miret and HP drummer Henrik Neidermier were anyway. – Chris Henderson

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