Smile Politely

Cake and tumult at The Creepshow

Every mosher was an island at The Creepshow Wednesday night as the slightest elbow bump, the merest body slam, met with awkward rebukes from a mostly statuesque audience.

This was not for lack of thrashable tunes. The Creepshow played with searing vitality. The organ Bwaaaaaa!!!-ed, the singer snarled and the snare drum chugged like a work-a-day freight train on its way home for some hard-earned oral sex.

That manic music was horror-tinged psycobilly, a kitschy genre The Creepshow inhabited with seamless conviction.

For The Creepshow, horrorbilly meant spooky decor draped over some genuinely good playing, making them a welcome antidote to punk bands that think energy and fashion are enough to carry an evening.

Their set was frantic but tight, with a James Brownsian illusion of chaos underpinned by control, musicality and refined talent.

But the chaos was good too. Guitarist Sarah ‘Sin’ tore about the stage, leering, contorting and popping eyebrows as she leaned over the crowd or loosed guitar shrieks while literally standing on top of an upright bass.

The organist Reverend McGinty, complete with white collar, was a charismatic customer. While he could thrash with the best onstage, he seemed most genuine when tapping the keys with an expression of affable benevolence. If I hadn’t seen his hands, I would have thought he was mussing the hair of a beloved child, or tucking in a pair of baby field mice.

The drummer, Matt ‘Palmade’ was 24 that night. And while progressively drunker on crowd-given shots, his solid, complex playing provided a sturdy framework for the antics up front.

His birthday was celebrated first with candlelit-cupcakes that were launched flaming into the crowd, and then with a birthday cake that he successfully dodged, allowing it to smear the bassist.

The bassist I didn’t hear much of, though that ivory immensity he plucked was a thing of beauty. He used it to full effect, wrenching it up in the air, twirling it, or laying it out on the stage for full-on thwanging.

So the band was good, but the band is only part of a show.

Wednesday night, there was a surreal disconnect between the manic energy onstage and the relatively quiet house.

It was unsettling.

The band was spraying the audience with a fire hose and no one got wet.

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