Flint’s The Machine Shop hosted an exceptional psychobilly-charged show for the Koffin Kats CD Release Throwdown this past Friday, January 20th. The bands made sure that the journey through horrible weather and snow-coated roads was worth coming to see them perform.
To clarify a few things about psychobilly: it is basically a sped-up version of rockabilly that blends in certain genres of music like punk, rhythm and blues. Part of what makes it its own music genre is the specific usage of an upright bass, which ensures solid, dark beats. Also, the subject of the songs (girls, gore, death, sci-fi, and socially unacceptable topics) are expressed with volatile humor. Most psychobilly bands guarantee a good time due to: entertaining shenanigans, hard, pulsating drum beats, electrically chugging guitar with added squealies, and a speedily slapped upright bass that compels for any type of dancing movement to occur.
Michigan’s, The Loving Dead, are a punk rock band who were channeling more psychobilly than punk rock last Friday. They played “Engines,” a slow thrumming song that would speed up out of nowhere. It was played with guttural force and the guitar made the song, going from a type of growl to trill. The Loving Dead covered Dion’s “Runaround Sue,” and made this doo wop-pop hit into a sweet psychobilly rendition with calculated drumming, spiraling electric guitar, as well as the bassist’s unbreakable, gruff voice. Throughout their entire set they were in good spirits and overall, a good band to start off the night.
If Left Alone and Ghoultown joined forces and added some mayhem, chaos and quality, Brutally Frank would be the end result. Hailing from Missouri, punkabilly might describe this band more than their rocknroll title. Brutally Frank was an unstoppable, raving ball of energy with their taut, pounding drums, brusquely played electric guitar, and a thumping, swiftly played bass. They made you lose yourself in the music, as much as they lost themselves. They recorded “Grip,” live, from their 2004 album, “TH1RT3N,” which sounded better than the recording. Drummer Mell sang for one song in a sweet alto that snarled, comparable to Patricia Day from HorrorPops, whilst playing menacing drums. The only downside to this set was that for almost the first half, the guitar practically drowned out the drums and bass. This was thankfully fixed, and the crowd was able to enjoy the rest of Brutally Frank’s set.
Koffin Kats’ CD Release Throwdown for, “Our Way & The Highway” was a success and marks their seventh release in eight years. Vic Victor is an astute bassist and handled his bass like a dancing partner: gracefully lifting it over his head or spinning it, and producing sharp, throbbing beats. He sings in a rather distinct deep wail, an almost opera-like voice with doo wop elements. EZ Ian was in constant motion and played a gritty, thrashing electric guitar and sang in a wonderfully rough hiss. Drummer Eric “E Ball” Walls was a speed machine and played incredibly tight, ardent beats that gave the songs the effect of a racing heart. They favored playing mostly older songs like, “Chaos,” “Laws of Sanity” and “Graveyard Tree.” During their set, EZ Ian and Vic impressively switched instruments without mistake or pause. That, as well as Vic standing on the shoulder of his bass while playing— started in the 50s by Bill Haley & His Comets’ bassist, Marshall Lyte—are some of the elements that make Koffin Kats standout as a psychobilly band. They were appreciative too, “Thank you guys for saying ‘F*** the weather,’ and showing up.” A Koffin Kats show offers a hell of a time. They get more intense and sweaty than the crowd, and it is all that the crowd can do to keep up with this maniacal force that Koffin Kats unleashes.