On Valentine’s Day in Reno, whether your idea of a good night involved a significant other, a solo wholesome time, or an intoxicated evening of debauchery, the Reverend Horton Heat concert at downtown Reno’s Cargo Concert Hall provided in hearts.
The Las Vegas openers, The Delta Bombers, whose roots rockabilly and swampy blues were high octane from the start, picked up quickly on the crowd’s mood for brash energy. There was no early lull this evening, and the band set the tone for the energetic response from the crowd that would carry through the night.
Riverside, California’s Voodoo Glow Skulls, a ska punk band that has been recording music consistently since the late 1980s, stood in aged contrast to The Delta Bombers, but it would be hard to tell from the intensity of their set. With a two-piece horn section and a vocalist draped in a poncho and mask — who throughout the set waved all manner of props, from flags to a voodoo totem — the band played through a mix of material ranging from early demos to their Epitaph Records releases to new songs. Singer Efrem Schulz alternated between the group’s English and Spanish material, and spent a portion of the set singing from the pit while the crowd danced around him, calling back on vocals.
But concertgoers were most excited for the Reverend Horton Heat and his dynamic set would show why The Rev., Jim Heath, is still selling out venues 33 years in (sometimes the same venue three consecutive nights as occurred earlier on this tour).
Led by Heath, stand-up bass player Jimbo Wallace, drummer RJ Contreras and Matt Jordan on keyboards rocked, meandered and powered their way through nearly two hours of music. The band has nailed the art of the performance, and the set incorporated prolonged solos, uproarious storytelling, and Heath standing atop Wallace’s laid-down bass while Wallace continued to play. Heat’s crew covered Chuck Berry and Motorhead, and called support including Voodoo Glow Skulls’ horn section and special guest Big Sandy, who crooned and smiled his way through a set of classics from performers such as Elvis Presley and Fats Domino.
Stage lights that swept Cargo’s floor revealed silhouettes of couples swing dancing or just swaying to the band’s rockabilly. Pair that with the amount of spilled beer and the scene of a Valentine’s Day inclusive for all who ventured into the show hall was clear.
Rounding off the show with a cover of Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas,” during which Heath first stopped the song saying it wouldn’t be complete without inviting Vegas’ Delta Bombers singer, Chris Moinichen, up to help out. Heath then called on Big Sandy to return to the stage and with all sharing vocal duties on the song, Reverend Horton Heat and friends finally took a collective bow two hours after they had begun. They turned the sweaty crowd loose onto the snow-covered streets of downtown Reno on a Valentine’s Day evening that would be hard to surpass.
— Shaun Astor
The Delta Bombers
Voodoo Glow Skulls