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The Horrorpops and Franks & Deans Back Together Again!

My interest in Rockabilly began in 2014 when I was at Punk Rock Bowling. I was at a club show to catch Old Man Markley, but there was this headliner called Reverend Horton Heat that followed. Sticking around that night, the Rev just blew my mind on what this rad genre of music was. At the time, Horrorpops were not active so I did not have the opportunity to catch them until most recently. However, it would be my first time seeing Hoss, of Franks & Deans, perform on a stage as Jim Heath invited him up to play a song with them. This past Saturday night marked my second time having the opportunity to watch the Horrorpops since they’ve come back. They brought a few favorite friends in Franks & Deans once again on tour with a really cool Phoenix band, the Belfry Bats, opening it all up.

The Belfry Bats are a fantastic bunch of Rockabilly artists too. The band is made up of Matty on lead vocals, Wes Hinshaw on the upright bass, Nick Feratu on guitar, Mark Frosti on rhythm guitar, and normally Chris Dallas on drums. Unfortunately, last month Chris was in a car accident with a wrong way driver so he was unable to perform. Good news being I’m hearing he is doing better. Nonetheless this meant that this already all-star list of a band needed someone to fill on for drums. They reached for another star and grabbed one of the coolest drummers in Phoenix to fill in, Rafa of Las Calakas.

It worked perfectly up there with Matty singing into his 55 style microphone and just personality exuding from every member on that stage. Not only did they delve into the usual Rockabilly and Psychobilly songs of their catalog, there was a rad Agent Orange “Bloodstains” cover in the set too. It was super cool to watch as Belfry Bats brought the excitement to open up this Saturday night at the Marquee.

Speaking of favorites, I love every member of this next band with Franks & Deans. If unfamiliar with them, they are a punk rock and ska cover band with a twist. They take classic songs like Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover” and Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse’s “Feeling Good” and put them to the instrumentals of favorite punk rock and ska tracks. It’s done with care too, as “Feeling Good” is put to Green Day’s “Brain Stew” which infamously rolls right into “Jaded.” For their version, it does the same but the song lyrics are a hybrid of “Jaded” instrumentals with Sam Theard’s “I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead (You Rascal You).” These songs part of the night’s set too. Similarly, you’ll find tracks with the same type of seamless mix and match throughout their set from a deep list of many familiar artists. Additionally, they incorporated a few of the punk covers from their surf rock album. They end up being sing-a-longs with the audience very familiar with the songs, this night including Dead Kennedy’s “Too Drunk to Fuck” and Green Day’s “Basketcase.”

This is a band with plenty of talent and experience in music with Robert DeTie, on bass, Hoss, on guitar, and Sampson, on guitar. This marked my first time seeing our local Steven “Meatbag” Lendrum, once of Squared and Contradiktion, perform with them on drums since joining them last year. All members share vocal duties singing and harmonizing throughout. The band doesn’t stop at those four members as Nickole Muse entertains the crowd with outfits and props generally themed around songs of the set. Giving a little bit of that Vegas flair, where they harken from, she dances and brings a burlesque style to that stage around the other four members. Throw in the witty banter that Franks & Deans engage with every single set and you have a formula that won over yet another audience this night.

Last was a band that probably needs no introduction, the Horrorpops. This marks only my second time watching them perform live. That is due to when I first started getting into Rockabilly, as mentioned in the intro, they were not active and weren’t for about a decade. The first time I watched them was their first tour coming back and one of my last shows before everything shut down in 2020. One thing that stands out immediately is there is so much personality in this band from all three members, Patricia Day, Nekroman, and Henrik Stendahl. To say they are having fun on that stage would be an understatement. They are cracking jokes, animated and such liveliness up there. Nekroman, being the most mobile on guitar, I feel only stands still when he has vocal parts in songs to tether him to a microphone. There is such a wonderful energy to them up there.

That energy is echoed right back at them as this crowd adores and loves them. There is such a volume and excitement the moment they step out on the stage. There are screams and singing along throughout the set. Near the end they invited all of Franks & Deans to do a little backing vocal as Patricia thanked and praised them glowingly for the entire tour together. Horrorpops kicked off their encore with Patricia taking Nekroman’s guitar and him taking her stand-up bass for “Psychobitches Outta Hell.” An example of those cracking jokes that I remember came as she got her bass back and expressed through the microphone how disgustingly sweaty Nekroman has left it as she wipes it off. They would go to close on a crowd favorite with “Walk Like A Zombie.” The Horrorpops put on such an excellent performance with so much charisma and friendliness. It is clear why they are so loved and why I hope to catch them again.

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