While acts such as Reverend Horton Heat have gained widespread acceptance, the curious rockabilly-punk offshoot known as psychobilly has been clawing at the mainstream gates. Psychobilly was born when a few bands blasted out of the strident early-'80s rockabilly revival scene by throwing some punk in the mix but keeping the stand-up bass. Lyrically, the parameters are simple: horror, gore, sex, and getting wasted, with extra credit for all four topics at the same time.
Though contemporary psychobilly's sound owes more to punk than rockabilly, it certainly takes its culture cues from the latter. The music soundtracks a fashion show of wedge-coiffed haircuts, cuffed jeans, hot-rod worship, and pinup couture for the ladies. Musically, psychobilly is not simply driven by style — its substance is its style.
And onstage pageantry rules. "Bands and individual musicians are always coming up with some way to grab your attention, like building a bass that looks like a coffin," says Xavier Ortiz of the Hotrod Hillbillies. "Light one or two instruments on fire, stand on top of a bass, have your drummer play standing up and be the lead singer. Bands are being creative with their appearance."
The Hotrod Hillbillies
With the Rocketz, Jolly Badfellow, Boise Bob, and others. 8 p.m. Sunday, August 15. Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. Admission costs $7; ages 18 and up. 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com
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So Sunday night's show at Churchill's should be one to remember, when the Hillbillies, in from Texas, take the stage with fellow ghouls the Rocketz, in from L.A. Local acts Boise Bob, Jolly Badfellow, No Rest, and Riot Agents will provide support.