One Scabby Eve...
Updated: Mar 25, 2019
Omaha's resident spooky punk band released their self-titled debut with one hell of a show!
I had this gnarly hatchet-shaped rash on my neck. I was wearing a duck sweater and red cords’. And I drove way too fucking fast to get to the Scabby Ghouls show at the Lookout.
I hadn't planned on reviewing this show for Slime and Grime necessarily. The Scabby Ghouls are a new spooky punk outfit (a la BAT!, The Cramps, The Mummies, etc.) out of Omaha. Slime and Grime being primarily a metal endeavor, this show was just going to be a for-me kind of thing. But goddammit, it turned out to be metal as fuck regardless. So here's this.
Traditionally there's supposed to be a doctrinal rift between the rock and punk genres right? Fans of one aren't supposed to like fans of the other? I don't think that's a thing anymore. A lot of people showed up for Scabby, and more significantly, all kinds of people. There were metalheads moshing with ska punks skanking. There were dudes who I know have seen Slayer live more than a handful of times headbanging next to playlist aficionados with an “X” on each hand. Ladies showed up. People of color showed up. LBGT+ people showed way the hell up. And this is not an anomalous incident, we've been seeing this at other shows.
The point is, it's together now, all of it. And it's so much better this way. What a perfect time to be Slime and Grime! With that said...
To be fair, this spooky cheesy punk sound is my absolute shit. I learned I loved music by listening to The Cramps, Blitzkrieg Kid, Souixsie and the Banshees, and BAT!. So when I caught wind through a flyer (old school wtvrshutthefuckup) about the Scabby Ghouls, I was all in. And I'll be damned if they're not local!
I met Brian and Brandon at the venue and Dummy Head Torpedo warmed us up. A couple dozen of us started bopping around to the poppy, punky good-vibe tunes. It was fast and gravelly enough to elicit some good-natured shoving and bouncy enough to manifest a modest fast-kicking can-can line. Later I asked Brain if that was his first time can-canning in a pit- not a critique of his technique at all. He's just so damned metal, I just assumed. “No, dude,” Brian responded, “I was a band kid.”
What we did not expect at this party-punk album debut show was a face-smashing, asphalt-blasting metal band. But Stronghold was all that and more. Brandon and I became 6-foot skeleton missiles ricocheting about the pit. Brian, our launcher and an always willing participant, weathered a fist to the jaw. The songs were fast, frantic, and loud as hell. After a couple of which, the band would look at each other with excitement and relief as if they'd just emerged from the hellish bowels of a hurricane. We kicked it bit with the Stronghold dudes after the set.
"Their system is steadfast; Ryan "Rymo" McLaughlin, the rock-solid, metal-minded guitarist writes the riffs and melodies. Tim "Twig" Lorence, a drummer with speed as impressive as his wingspan pounds out the rhythm. Aaron Skouge channels his real-world pain into lyrics then into the formidable roars that stampede alongside the mayhem. They'll be blowing it up with Oh, Sleeper pretty soon!
As the Lookout filled up, I think we were all still reeling from Stronghold even halfway into Hand painted Police Car's set. They are talented punk music fellas, but the genre shift between acts might have grinded the gears a bit. But- and this is the first time I have seen this happen- the crowd was won over completely, by a song title.
“Thanks, this next one is called Tupac Should Have Been President.” Riotous applause and avid moshing ensued for the rest of the set.
The Scabby Ghouls absolutely killed it, pun intended- it's a very punny band as the spooky punk subgenre would require. They played most of their self-titled debut (I reviewed it!) and some rad as hell covers (Dead Kennedys, Agent Orange). The room was full and the energy was nuclear. Dancing, moshing, and headbanging choreographed the cyclonic blur of celebratory punk mania. Hit up that album review if you want more details about the music specifically. For all intents and purposes of this review, I’ll say that Denise Hazard is visually and sonically magnetic. Louie Hazard’s eggbeater fingers can make the guitar strings scream like none other. Nathan Christensen’s rumble blasts on the kit are a perfect fit for Alex Steffens’ pulse-cranking bass riffs.
After the encore (Knife Fight) the night dissolved into the warmth of sweating people thanking each other: For playing amazing music. For running such great fucking sound for a “sticky floor club.” For being kind in the pit. For keeping the energy high. For just braving the pothole slaloms of Nebraska roads to come to a punk rock show. Gratitude on gratitude.
I don’t know what the fuck this rash is. Maybe it’s Shingles. Hope I didn’t give like a hundred people some sort of zombie rash in that pit. If I did though, hell of a souvenir.