Brooklyn goes 'pyscho' for all-day rockabilly fest

If there’s one thing Brooklyn rockabilly fans like more than drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, it’s throwing cans of said beverage at performing musicians. Assuming this is a sign of approval—no one seemed to be aiming for the genitals or face—the 3rd Annual Psychobilly Luau, held Saturday at the Bell House in Brooklyn, was a resounding success.

From late afternoon until well after midnight, dudes with tattoos and pompadours pelted the stage with cans, while their girlfriends, resplendent in ’50s dresses and colorful tats of their own, preened, shimmied, and generally basked in their own foxiness.

There were a number of memorable moments, as bands touched all the ‘billy bases, from traditional rockabilly to full-on psycho. Here are some of the highlights:

1. New Haven’s Soul Reapin’ 3 slowing its vicious gallop and covering the Danzig classic “Mother.”

2. The Othermen adding trashy Farfisa organ, voodoo necklaces, and, for some reason, pajamas to the day’s festivities, careening though a set of calamitous garage-rock tunes.

3. After hours of punk-inspired music, the Wanda Jackson 5 going refreshingly old school and offering up some classic rockabilly. The quintet covered several tunes made famous by their namesake, the undisputed “Queen of Rockabilly,” including “Funnel of Love” and “Riot in Cell Block #9.” No Jackson 5 tunes, sadly.

4. Psychocharger, billed as the Big Apple’s “bloodiest” band, taking the stage in grass skirts and plastic phalluses, their faces and torsos slathered in stage blood. Using both live and electronic drums, the trio powered through a mechanized mix of psychobilly, thrash metal, and noise rock. At one point, the band even covered that song Cheech Marin sings in the battle-of-the-bands scene from “Up in Smoke.”

5. Memphis Morticians front man Trash Only ranting about how New York City’s garage and rockabilly acts are ignored by a local music press fixated on avant-garde hipster bands. Mr. Only also lashed out against the Vans Warped Tour and Siren Music Festival, labeling both events (which, due to unfortunate scheduling, happened to be taking place in the city the same day as the Luau) as “corporate.” The Morticians more than matched their singer’s bluster, blasting through an hour of scuzzy rockabilly songs that, given all the sermonizing, felt like statements of purpose.

6. The legendary San Diego creep-surf outfit Deadbolt ignoring city ordinances and lighting up cigarettes during its headlining set. Featuring two basses and a twangy guitar, the band opted for a uniform of dark shades and black leather vests. It was a menacing look, and the musicians grimaced as they churned out song after song of pulp-horror sleaze.

Kenneth Partridge

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *