Reverend Horton Heat & Jello Biafra Rile Up a Sold Out Crowd At Seattle’s El Corazon, By Holly Homan

Reverend Horton Heat

Reverend Horton Heat

Friday night and I’m back at Seattle’s El Corazon. This night it’s The Reverend Horton Heat and the legendary Jello Biafra headlining. Preceding are Huntington Beach punks Guttermouth. I arrived quite early, but about fifteen minutes before Spitting Cobras were to take the stage, hunger pangs began to overtake me, so I left the club, trekked back to my car, relinquishing my coveted parking place, and headed a couple miles up to Capitol Hill to Dicks for their delicious cheeseburgers. By the time I returned to El Corazon, Spitting Cobras had just finished their set. So sorry, Spitting Cobras, I’ll catch you again another time. I’m sure.

I did, however, get to see Guttermouth in their entirety. These Huntington Beach punk rockers put on a wild show with lots of humor (much of it sophomoric, but funny) and lots of energy. Front man Mark Adkins never really sings, per se, but rather grunts and growls and yells into the mic while he prances about the stage at high speed, leaning into the crowd and riling them into a frenzy. He’s a real wild one, a real wild child and his stage antics and movements are like a strange hybrid of Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop. Their set ended with one of their more famous songs, “Perfect World” and the band left the stage drenched in sweat and grit. This is my second time seeing Guttermouth and I think I liked them even more this time. My only complaint is that they didn’t sing “Pee In the Shower” this time either! But seriously, Guttermouth is fast, wild and in your face and a hell of a fun band to see.

Jello Biafra

Jello Biafra

The show roster taped to the side of the stage listed Jello Biafra as the next act, but as the stage hands worked the stage, I noticed one of them tuning an upright bass. Then a black curtain was removed from behind the drum kit and a huge banner displaying the words Reverend Horton Heat was displayed. Cheers erupted and a stage hand nodded toward the crowd. I wondered if Jello had canceled, or was he now headlining? My questions were pushed from my mind when The Reverend (AKA Jim Heath), his sidekick Jimbo Wallace on standup bass, and a new drummer (Scott Churilla) came on stage and immediately tore into “Psychobilly Freakout.” The Reverend Horton Heat is part psycho, part rocka, and part trucker country. They are also celebrating their 25th anniversary as a band. When they played “The Jimbo Song,” everyone chanted along to the J-I-M-B-O. Many sang along to other songs as well, proving that The Reverend Horton Heat is still popular in Seattle. The show was sold out. El Corazon is a tiny club, so this may not seem such a feat, but there were other events going on around town, so there was stiff competition.

A fer piece into the show, the Rev. himself claimed they would have a couple special guests join them on stage. First up was a guy named Hollis, whom the Rev. claimed could harmonize with a toaster. He came out to play guitar and harmonize for a couple of songs before disappearing backstage again. (I don’t know for sure if he can harmonize with a toaster, but he harmonized beautifully with the Rev). The next guest was the one I was hoping for- the legendary punk himself, Jello Biafra. He came out draped in a purple cape, which he immediately shed so he could move about the stage with as much energy as someone thirty years younger. Then he whipped into a throaty, powerful version of “House of the Rising Sun,” which he claimed he’d wanted to sing since he was seven years old. Having Reverend Horton Heat backing Jello worked surprisingly well, proving the diversity of the Reverend Horton Heat as well as their own punk roots. Jello Biafra is a very energetic and theatrical performer. When he sang “Holiday In Cambodia,” I thought I’d be sliced in half as I was crushed against the edge of the stage.

Jello, who by now had shed not only his cape, but his jacket, was wearing a t-shirt that said “Report Suspicious Activity” on the front with the letters USA highlighted. On more than one occasion Jello took a stage dive and crowd surfed before rolling back onto the stage. After only a few songs he again donned his purple cape and slunk off stage like a hunchback. Within seconds, however, he back onstage with more crazy antics as he ripped into “Too Drunk To Fuck” and frequently pretended to puke on stage. Then the stage momentarily went dark and Jello again disappeared. It was pure psycho/rockabilly once again.

When The Rev. returned for an encore, Scott Churilla performed a stunning drum solo where he sounded like a well tuned locomotive and even spun his sticks like well oiled locomotive pistons. Then Jello came back, this time performing “Viva Las Vegas,” writhing about like a spastic puppet. Then the show ended.

I sadly never got to see The Dead Kennedys. I don’t ever remember them playing Seattle between 1982 and the time of their break up about five years later. I’ve seen Jello about four times solo now with different bands backing him and he’s always a treat as is The Reverend. This was another fun-filled night at El Corazon.

Holly Homan

All photos property of Holly Homan, all rights reserved.

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