After almost two years, the show that celebrated the 25-year anniversary of the Toadies’ album “Rubberneck” finally happened. Best known as the creators of the 1995 grunge hit “Possum Kingdom,” the Texas band found success during the alternative rock boom of the 1990s with tunes influenced by Pixies, and guitars that were powerful and melodic.
The Austin-based garage punk band Drakulas opened the show for the eager crowd. Formed in 2015, singer Mike Weibe and bassist Rob Marchant of the Riverboat Gamblers teamed up with Zach Blair, the guitarist from Rise Against, and recorded the band’s debut album. When they are not touring, Weibe and Blair stay busy with various side projects, including a podcast where they make fun of, well, everything!
The vibe in the room was energetic and it got turned up when Drakulas took the stage. Wearing semi-matching red and white outfits, they appeared controlled by unseen hands. Weibe talked about where he was from, being either time or space, distant past or future, and criminals from a fictional metropolis. He leapt into the air and ran around the stage like a madman; it was awesome.
The drums were loud, sharp, and fierce. The guitar howled. The bass lines were clear and precise. With songs like “Terminal Amusements,” “OWOWOWOWOWOWWOW,” and “Fashion Forward,” it’s no wonder the band has amassed a huge cult following.
The Reverend Horton Heat was up next. I don’t think The Cramps had any idea when they spawned this genre what they would unleash. The Rev and their hot-rodded fusion of high-speed guitar runs, thundering rhythms, and lyrical smirk make them one of the most famous psychobilly bands around. I try and catch them whenever they are in town; it’s one of those bands like The Blasters… you just go!
As they took the stage, I was reminded why they are the most popular psychobilly band touring today. Like most orphaned, former residents of the Eastern Texas juvenile correctional facility, The Rev has a way with words. For example: “Met a baby with a smiling face, She said ‘Baby, what’s around your waist,’ It was my love whip, And it’s so hip!” Or how about: “Bales of cocaine, fallin’ from low-flyin’ planes, I don’t know who done dropped ‘em but I thank ‘em just the same.”
The Rev starts off with “Big Sky” and then flies right into “Baddest of the Bad,” followed by one of my favorites, “One Time for Me.” You have the double bass and the drums, The Rev has to do all the rest and then when he plays “I Could Get Used to It,” there’s a BOOM! Everything goes quiet. Lights go off. Seconds go by. Then all the lights come back up and after a few minutes, bassist Jimbo Wallace says, “I guess we blew up a PA.” He shrugs his shoulders and after a few minutes, it’s back on again!
The Rev’s setlist was like a catalog of greatest hits: “I Can’t Surf,” “Rockin’ Dog,” “Psychobilly Freakout,” “Galaxy 500.” “The doctor says I’m living on precious borrowed time” he croons in “Liquor, Beer, & Wine.” A few more songs (16 in all), and he wraps it up with Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.”
Next up was the Toadies and the first thing I notice was these guys played really well and have a very distinct sound. They have a great stage presence; they smile, they laugh, and they are genuinely having a good time. It seemed to be contagious because everyone in the audience looked happy too. The house of capacity for this venue is 3,000 and it looked like it was full. I was drenched in sweat, as was everyone else.
They started off with “Little Sin,” then went into “No Deliverance.” Front-man Vaden Todd Lewis introduces the band and then I hear the first crazy notes of “Mexican Hairless,” which reminds me of Primus.
Suddenly, there it was – that familiar intro to “Possum Kingdom.” The crowd went wild! Vaden Todd Lewis and his family spent a lot of time at Possum Kingdom State Park and the song is about a guy in a cult who is lonely, so he tries to get a girl to join as well. This song is a continuation of “I Burn” and put Toadies in our ‘90s musical history forever.
The rest of the set included “Away,” “Tyler,” “Happy Face,” “Velvet,” “I Burn,” and “I Come from the Water,” another one of my favorites. The encore consisted of a cover of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins tune, “I Put a Spell on You,” which sounded awesome because they made it their own. They wrapped things up with “Song I Hate” and “Rattler’s Revival.”
While many artists and bands often dwindle into irrelevance after their peak or breakout, the Toadies are proof that good rock music is timeless. Long after the success of “Possum Kingdom” and “Rubberneck,” Toadies are still packing venues and are beloved by their fellow North Texans. While the Toadies continue to make quality music and staying true to their brand of rock, their community will always answer their call.