Friday, May 28

For more than 20 years, the San Diego-based voodoobilly band Deadbolt has been scaring the bejesus out of audiences the world over. Last Friday, it was Tucson's turn for another dose of the unpredictable upheaval that passes as their unique version of a rock 'n' roll show.

Quite a crowd had formed by the time the second act on the bill, local horror surf rockers The Mission Creeps, took the stage. They just released their third album, Dark Cells, and they've made quite a name for themselves in the rockabilly scene.

Opening with a slower surf groove, guitarist James Arrr perfected the eerily beautiful slide effects as Miss Frankie Stein seductively maneuvered around the stage with her bass. A few songs in, the lights were finally turned down to fit the mood. The standout number was "Dead to Me," which includes a titillating chord change that got people in the crowd moving.

Any band following the Creeps should've been grateful for the wonderful setup and knocked it out of the park. It's too bad Deadbolt didn't take advantage.

It felt like days before Deadbolt was ready to play. Caution tape was placed waist-high from one end of the stage to the other. Then sparks flew as metal hit a grinder, part of their power-tool shtick. The theatrics sort of made up for the late start—but once they began playing, the set seemed doomed. Harley Davidson, lead guitarist and vocalist, played the same surf rock chords over and over, as if waiting for a cue from Gary "Third Degree" Burns on the bass, who managed to break his E string before they churned out a full song. (Frankie from The Mission Creeps lent out her bass to save time.)

Once things started up again, there was some vague attempt at singing by both Davidson and Burns that amounted to incoherent mumbling. A nearby die-hard fan admitted, "This isn't what I expected."

When there was a cable malfunction, and they had to stop again, the patience of the crowd seemed to be wearing thin. After reluctantly sticking around to hear a full song, I threw in the towel. Better luck next time, Deadbolt.


More by Mel Mason


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