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The Rev rocks the house

Shauna Farnell
Special to the DailyJim Heath stands on Jimbo Wallace's stand-up bass as Reverend Horton Heat delivers an electric strain of untarnished rock-n-roll.
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VAIL – The build-up for the main act contained enough raunchy flare to create a halo around the stage once Reverend Horton Heat finally materialized.Throw Rag, the opening band for the Rev’s Monday night gig at 8150, might have stolen the show with its awkward and obnoxious antics had it not been summarily upstaged by the Rev’s professional yet blood-curdling stage presence.

Throw Rag, which defines its sound as “sailor rock,” unleashed screeching, yet oddly harmonious vocals reminiscent of the Joykiller and punchy, power-chord laden guitar choruses not unlike The Sex Pistols. The singer, who was a deadringer for that old man with the toothless underbite and wide-eyed stare you see on postcards, wailed under his yachting cap and strutted across the edge of the stage like a lounge singer throughout the show. It was less scary to have him amble across the stage than his half-naked back-up vocalist, whose bare gut wobbled threateningly along with every King-Kong-like thump he delivered onto the instrument hanging around his neck. That instrument, ironically, was a washboard that he played with a spoon, complete with a cowbell attached for that well-timed clank between riffs.Early on, when the guy – who had clearly gotten into glue or some other significantly mind-altering substance before the show – grabbed some girl in the front row and shoved her head into his crotch, I decided it was time to take a couple steps away from the stage. After the microphone disappeared inside his pants, I hoped, for the Rev’s sake, that all the equipment would be changed out if not disinfected before Reverend Horton Heat took the stage. Regardless of this nastiness, Throw Rag put on a great show.The Rev (aka Jim Heath), who always looks smaller in real life – clad in his flame-speckled, oversized blazer – than he sounds in stereo, kicked right into an older, high-speed instrumental tune before launching into a few songs off the latest, high-energy release, “Revival.”

The bouncing floor, which was causing the microphones to sway and gave a person the vague feeling of seasickness, eventually required the band’s poor roadie to position himself between the giant bass cabinets once the swing tunes began, wrapping a stabilizing arm around each in addition to the canvas straps that were already pinning them to the bobbing stage.The stand-up bass, plucked at supersonic speeds by rockabilly golden boy Jimbo Wallace, is the highlight of the Rev’s live show. Especially when it causes the floor to rock like a fishing boat. Despite not taking the stage until after 11:30 p.m., it was obvious to every one of us in the jam-packed, throbbing audience that Reverend Horton Heat consists of three guys with a genuine passion for rocking out. And they really did rock the house. They played an impeccable rendition of their Cartoon Network theme song, “Johnny Bravo,” and after a gale-force first encore of the classic “It’s Martini time,” the Rev finished off his set around 2 a.m. with an extended version of another classic, “Let’s Go.” Anyone who’s seen the Rev perform before knows that when this song makes its appearance, the ultimate Rev maneuver is about to take place. In the middle of this tune, with its pounding two-string bass chorus, high-speed rodeo drums and clattering guitar, Wallace skillfully lies his bass on its side without skipping a beat while the Rev steps on top of it and kicks into a metallic, high-neck guitar solo, all while the stage continues to bounce like a malfunctioning elevator. If that’s not pure rock, I don’t know what is.



For those who were unfortunate enough to miss the Rev Monday in Vail, he’ll make another appearance tonight at Sherpa & Yetis in Breckenridge.Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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