A few short weeks ago, I was in the record store and stumbled upon a Nekromantix album I didn’t recognize. Considering I only recognized 1 of the 3 members on the cover, my first instinct was that this was an older album Hellcat had not yet re-issued. A quick query with professor Google informed me that it was in fact the, 2016 release, A Symphony of Wolf Tones and Ghost Notes. I gave it a spin, learned they were coming to town, and was interested in both enough to pursue one because of the other. Chicago spent that whole October Saturday being soaked by some 2017/End of Days, summer thunderstorms that were kind enough to flare up and welcome me off the train as I walked to the venue. Being that wet, my quit-and-go-home level of misery almost got the best of me, but I’ve been trying this new thing where I don’t listen to my anxiety, so made my way to the front and got ready to see the Nekromantix for the first time after listening to them 15 years ago.
It was a night full of surprises that started with a band that, if I had to guess, was both available and kind of fit the bill. That isn’t to say they were unwelcome, but a melodic punk band only kinda makes sense at a Psychobilly show. Assassination Squad most fit the bill in that they reminded of all my favorite Epi-Fat band growing up. They may not have had a stand up bass, but their straight forward, hard driven, melodic pop-ish punk were as close to any of the other bands I listened to alongside my favorite horror themed bands. They were a lot of fun to watch and played with tons of heart, like your favorite band from high school. I would love to catch them on a bill closer to their sound. I feel like they would shine.
Let’s talk about The Krank Daddies. Upon first glance, they bring to mind the uncle who add’s his nieces and nephews on Facebook so he can invite them to his gig at the car show in Rockford on Thursday night. Five minutes into the show and it’s clear that this band is the love child of said uncle, Chops McClintock. They advertise on their website that they will play anywhere and have opened for all kinds of bands. That makes sense when your shtick is being drunk and rocking and rolling. Their set was fine but totally overshadowed by their gross remarks overall sleazy demeanor. Be sure to catch them thanking the latest big name to come to town for letting them open.
I never imagined that 2017 would be the year I would discover a Psychobilly band I overlooked twelve years ago that really impresses me, but that’s just what kind of year it has been. From how pretty the bassist’s instrument was to how crisp it sounded and how tight his sound check was, The Brains immediately caught my attention. I needed something to wash the taste of stale cigarettes and last night’s whiskey left in my mouth by the last band and this Canadian trio had a lot of potential. Having not played Chicago in ten years, it made sense why so many people in the crowd were excited. Almost immediately the pit opened up as the Brains tore through their take on horror genre. Their newest record answers the age old question, What if the guy from Panic at the Disco sang in Tiger Army with a twist of guttural yells? Honestly, it was a lot of fun and translated fantastically live. They were easily the high point of the night and I was absolutely delighted to discover them.
To say I was excited for the Nekromantix to start would be an understatement. Sure, it was nearly midnight and I haven’t been into Psychobilly for years. But I’ve heard nothing but stellar reviews of their performances and their antics onstage, so I had a good enough reason to expect fun. Coming out to “Struck By Wrecking Ball” was a great way to get that started. The sound was shit at the beginning and it’s been a long time since I last listened to that song, so it took me a minute to realize what they were playing. Once it got to the point where everyone could hear better, the crowd was resurrected and party really kicked off. Clearly everyone was pissed about having to come out in the rain and decided to work that aggression out to the haunting tunes of Denmark’s finest. I was introduced to the band on the Give ‘Em the Boot comps that Hellcat used to put out and the Sandorff brothers era of the Nekromantix was my favorite version, so I was pleased as punch to hear jams like “Gargoyles Over Copenhagen” & “Subcultural Girl” show up. They actually did a really good job covering their entire catalog even after basically abandoning their set list in favor of audience requests.
In the end, it was a really fun night. I’m glad I decided to bear the storm, but despite that and on top of everything else, my camera died. I was hoping that since the Nekromantix sing about spooky, supernatural subjects, they might conjure some sort of mechanical Nikon resurrection, but it never happened. Nonetheless, after so many years of not, I am happy to finally cross seeing the Nekromantix off my list of bands to see.