Last Sunday night in Kansas City – while the Royals and Sporting Kansas City may have lost, those in attendance for Nashville Pussy and Reverend Horton Heat certainly won. In addition to the fun atmosphere of Knuckleheads Saloon, we were fortunate enough to have nearly perfect weather. What a night for some loud and fast rockabilly!
This was our first time going to Knuckleheads Saloon. I have heard many great things about this venue. In attendance with me was my wife; we haven’t gone to a show together for a while, so I though my sidekick would enjoy the weather and music.
Motorcycles, classic cars and greasers of all ages packed the outside patio and stage area of Knuckleheads. We unfortunately got to the venue after the openers, Lucky Tubb and Unknown Hinson played, but I heard from many people that they put on a great show. Sucks for us, but we came just in time for the 2 bigger acts of the night – Nashville Pussy and The Reverend Horton Heat.
First (or third, really) up was Nashville Pussy. The band, which is known for their hard rock psychobilly music, formed in 1997 after the breakup cowpunk band Nine Pound Hammer. Husband and wife duo Blaine Cartwright (lead vocals and guitar) and Ruyter Suys (lead guitar) as well as drummer Jeremy Thompson form the founding members of the group. Brilliant babe badass Bonnie Buitrago backs it up on bass.
After a quick setup, Nashville Pussy dove right into the song “Come on, Come on.” If you can’t get down with this song, you probably don’t have a pulse. Getting the crowd significantly pumped up for the set to come, the band took zero time to go right into the follow up song “Rub it To Death”
I loved that this band wasted little time gabbing on stage. As the saying goes “Less talk, more rock” and Nashville Pussy certainly made good on that. Another notable feature about this band is how they absolutely shred. Husband and wife ripped it up on a Gibson Explorer and SG, respectively, while our badass bass babe Bonnie rocked the hell out of a fender.
Towards the end of the set, Blaine traded his guitar for a whiskey bottle, and gave us the intro to The Marshall Tucker Band’s song “Can’t You See”. It was at this opportunity that ladies up front really got to shine. Ruyter absolutely beats the hell out of that Gibson, but boy does it sound great. In the spirit of in your face rock and roll, the set closed with “Go, Motherfucker, Go”. From start to finish, Nashville Pussy took us on a wild ride of whiskey soaked, southern flavored rock and roll.
“If you’re not drunk for Rev, you’re doing it wrong” was a quote from an excited fan. Now, I don’t know about all that (having a 16 ounce PBR seemed necessary, though) but our headliners, The Reverend Horton Heat, were here to heat up the stage with their pioneering brand of country-fed punkabilly.
Starting in Dallas, Texas in 1985, The Reverend Horton Heat is Jim “Reverend Horton” Heath on vocals and guitar, Jimbo Wallace on upright bass, and Scott Churilla on drums.
It can be argued that The Reverend Horton Heat popularized the psychobilly scene in the late 80s and early 90’s. You could tell the scene was very much alive here at Knuckleheads; the clothes, cars, and culture all being present here tonight. My own mother actually used to see this band whenever they rolled into town with their signature sound. You can say I was raised on good music.
A sign reading “Rev” in red channel letters adorned the stage, signaling that the main act was about to go on. The group led off with “The Jimbo Song”, a song seemingly about their upright bass player. This song is impossible not to dance and shout to. A lead off like that really gets the crown going.
The Rev played on, with classics from their 90s album along with more modern favorites. The trio later brought Unknown Hinson to join them onstage, who absolutely shredded that hollow-bodied guitar.
Nashville Pussy and The Reverend Horton heat put on an excellent show. It was a different departure than our usual metal shows, but the combination of a beautiful spring night, outdoor venue, and ridiculously cool crowd made for a really, really fun night. If you’re in the following towns, do not miss your chance to check out these cool cats.
Reverend Horton Heat
Words by Dallas Hessel
Photos by Josh Chaikin