The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Nekromantix spreads psychobilly madness in Hollywood

It was Friday, Oct. 20, and the Key Club on the Sunset Strip was alive and kicking following the loud and spirited performance of Calabrese. They had just finished playing their set and amid the crazy mohawks from hell, I could vaguely make out a packed room full of greased up psycho punks and their red lipstick-laden arm candy accomplices.

Headlining the show was The Nekromantix, an old school three-person Danish psychobilly act starring the sick and twisted Kim Nekroman on “coffin bass.” These guys were insane, but even more insane was the build up to see them. I have never been to a gig that ran nearly as long as this one did; having shown up at 8:45 p.m., I exited Hollywood, enthused and disoriented, at around 2:30 a.m.

The first opening band of the night was Calabrese, a horror rock band from Phoenix, Ariz. They put on an awesome performance that managed to suck in the crowd better than most opening bands usually do. Everybody in the crowd went wild when they covered the Misfits song “Halloween” in the spirit of the night.

Calabrese is a family act that started up in 2003 with Bobby Calabrese on guitar, Jimmy Calabrese on bass and vocals, and Davey Calabrese on drums.

I got a chance to speak with Jimmy while he was packing up the merchandise stand downstairs. He talked about how excited he was to be playing the Key Club because it is “such a cool scene for the psycho and rock scene.” He also said it is good playing for new faces. Calabrese has been to Hollywood three times and this time they were given no small reception.

It was not until they finished up their set that I really started to take in my surroundings. With Halloween on the way, this mid-sized venue became dark and macabre, complete with carved pumpkins and hellish stage lighting. The projector screen above the stage was flashing video clips of carnal vampirism and perverse priests behind a thick layer of fog.

I was three feet from the stage in the ominously wide-open center of the audience reserved for elbow-throwing and bloody snarls: in other words, the pit. The sound checks finished up and as the Coffin Draggers stepped on stage to give their fans a second round of psychobilly madness, I knew it was time to make a move quickly lest my notebook be turned into an illegibly beer-doused stack of paper pulp and my camera be reduced to plastic shards.

The Coffin Draggers were intense. Their onstage presence was a huge adrenaline rush. Robert Frank hit the drums hard and fast, Jose Sleeping was amazing on guitar, and best of all was the tongue-wagging, trench coat-donning bassist Gator McMurder. His performance would make the McMurder family proud.

I watched them with a trancelike captivation. They were fluid and well-rehearsed, and each band member’s unique personality was inherent in their on-stage styles. They were also very interactive with the crowd. At one point, the Coffin Draggers pulled someone up to sing along, and then later on two girls came up and danced for about five minutes while they played. I felt the ground shaking like there was an earthquake when they played “Dead Girls Don’t Say ‘No.'”

After the show, McMurder talked about the dedication of his band. He said that a couple of years ago he came down with a bad case of pneumonia, but he played anyway. According to McMurder, losing his voice was no big deal since he sings “with a raspy, scratchy voice anyway.”

Finally, the show headlined after four hours of openers. Though I am not complaining, as all of the bands were amazing. But waiting until almost 1 a.m. to see the Nekromantix is like a kid drinking too much coffee on Christmas Eve and being forced to sit in the living room staring at his presents until the sun comes up.

I was dying from the anticipation, but when the curtain reopened and the Nekromantix came out rocking I knew it was all worth it. These guys were unlike anything I had ever seen before. Suffice it to say, they are the best live band I have ever seen.

Their improvising skills made the show that much better. The bassist took song requests despite the objections of drummer Wasted James to follow the set list. I was thrilled when my yells for “Gargoyles Over Copenhagen” were heard. At one point during the song, Troy Destroy opened up with a guitar solo while Kim Nekroman played his custom coffin bass with his tongue. Later he sat on the bass and played while making freakish faces at the audience.

How these guys keep going is a mystery to me. They all look like they are pushing 40 years old and yet they manage to play with so much energy at 2 a.m. while I am slipping in and out of coherency. I guess you can do that when you rock.

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