For many, the night before Thanksgiving is a tremendously busy holiday into itself. There are last-minute shoppers, people traveling across the country, prepping for a turkey dinner. So, a wild and raging rock show was probably not everyone’s immediate thought, and yet, here we are on the eve of Thanksgiving with a sold-out crowd at the Observatory in Santa Ana. Yes, despite all the chaos this holiday brings along and people’s plans, droves came out for this stacked lineup, which largely goes to show the huge following behind Nekromantix.
Kicking off the evening was The Rhythm Shakers from Los Angeles. I would describe them as rockabilly band, but they refer to themselves as straight up 1950s rock and roll.
No matter what you call them, there’s no denying the booming vocals of Marlene Perez – a deep, powerful voice that is the perfect vehicle for their sound, highlighted by standup bassist, Victor Mendez. Perez’s voice alternates between sultry and powerful. Their energetic set featured songs in both English and Spanish.
Santa Ana, California
November 23, 2022
Any time you need a band to show up and party and get the crowd instantly ready to rock, just invite the Voodoo Glow Skulls. The punk ska band from Riverside knew they had a short set and wasted absolutely no time launching into “Human Piñata,” “Misunderstood,” and “Delinquent Song.” Lead singer, Efrem Schulz, clad in a horned lucha libre mask and sarape, bounced around onstage like an Energizer bunny on 10 cups of coffee, using every opportunity to sing from the lip of the stage to be closer to fans.
The heart and soul of Voodoo will always be founding brothers, Eddie Casillas on guitar, and Jorge Casillas on bass. Jorge’s thumping bass and rapid playing really becomes apparent watching him live on songs like “Shoot the Moon,” which generated one of the biggest pits of the night – members of all ages skanking, moshing, and pogoing up and down. Voodoo sticks out from what many would consider your “typical” ska band, in that they are much heavier and show hard rock and even metal influences – such as Eddie’s guitar intro for “Insubordination” a take on Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.” The band closed with “Voodoo Anthem,” leading to chants from the chorus, “who do Voodoo? We do! F*ck you!”
A large crowd started gathering as the lights turned down low and the PA began blaring Slade’s glam rock 1973 hit, “Cum on Feel the Noize.” One by one each of the Lower Class Brats took the stage, joined last by lead singer and co-founding member, Bones. Although the Brats are originally from Texas, they have since made Los Angeles their home, so this was a homecoming of sorts for the band and many of their fans came out to celebrate. The crowd got pretty rowdy in the mosh pit as the band tore through “All the Young Dudes Are Pissed” and “Do It Again.” Bones, donning a black bowler hat and his customary black gloves, snarled through rapid-fire lyrics as fans sang back to him.
In between songs, bassist Ron Conflict (Ron Martinez, lead singer of Final Conflict) said that this was the portion of the show where they switched things up. “We notice our mosh pits are usually pretty male-driven. But for this next song, we want ONLY girls in the pit. Guys, you’re going to sit this one out; this one’s only for them.” Sure enough, a female mosh pit broke out for the popular “I’m a Mess.” Lower Class Brats closed with “Ultra Violence” as fans cheered asking for an encore, even though they were not the headlining act – something you don’t see often.
After the Voodoo mosh pits got the crowd amped up, I foolishly thought perhaps the Lower Class Brats crowd would be the most raucous of the evening. I had no idea just how insane a fanbase the Nekromantix have.
Their fans had been rabidly awaiting the psychobilly band from Denmark. As soon as the band launched into their first song, “Nice Day for a Resurrection,” a mosh pit exploded, swallowing up the entire floor.
Lead singer Kim Nekroman played his signature coffinbass – a custom stand-up bass with the body of a coffin and a headstock in the shape of a giant crucifix. Nekroman’s vocals sound like something out of a European sci-fi flick, perfectly encompassing the horror themes of their music, accompanied by guitarist, Francisco Mesa’s raspy vocals.
The second song of the night, “Driller Killer” really showcases the musicianship of all three members – Nekroman thrashing wildly at the coffinbass, Martinez shredding through classic rock n’ roll guitar, and Rene Garcia playing a steady drum beat at a breakneck speed.
They slowed things down for the moody “Subcultural Girl,” and also played the humorous tongue-in-cheek “Horny in a Hearse,” a song which may explain how they came up with the name Nekromantix.
The band closed things down with “Haunted Cathouse” and the speed demon, “Who Killed the Cheerleader?”
Fans showed up, and the bands most certainly showed up. A packed audience soiled and exhausted cheered loudly into the night having just experienced four acts who gave everything they had. This crowd certainly had something to be thankful for.