Guttermouth/Koffin Kats/Gallows Bound - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Guttermouth / Koffin Kats / Gallows Bound

Live in Grand Rapids (2017)

live show

There wasn’t necessarily any one must see band on the bill at the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids on Saturday December 2nd, but the four combined made for a pretty impressive lineup. The tickets were a little expensive at $25, but the Tip Top is not a very big place and it ended up selling out. (Due to our heroic consumption, the higher ticket price was probably more than offset by the reasonable drink prices.) While that’s good news for those of us hoping for more local punk shows featuring national acts, I swear that a couple of years ago this would have been at a much bigger club. Anyway, we showed up early for a change and the place was already starting to get crowded.

The Atom Age started the evening off about 9pm with a rousing half hour of soul, R&B, surf and garage inspired punk. The Oakland based six piece had two guitars, bass and drums that were supplemented by organ and sax. Both guitar players sang lead vocals, and one of them looked a bit like a young Jerry Lee Lewis. If I had just a bit more rhythm, I think I could have danced to the swinging sounds of The Atom Age. Many in the packed crowd were doing just that. The enthusiastic audience and low stage actually made it difficult to see from the back of the bar, which is pretty uncommon for the venue. This was the only band of the night that I hadn’t seen previously, and I very much enjoyed them.

Next up was Gallows Bound from Winchester, Virginia. I had seen this punkgrass six piece a couple of years earlier, and was quite taken with them. I’ve listed to their self titled full length many times since then. They played a few songs from that album and a few from their newer EP Appalachian Witch, which I also picked up. Gallows Bound uses traditional acoustic instruments and has both male and female lead singers. They manage to make a lot of noise with two acoustic guitars, banjo, mandolin, standup bass and drums. The songs are dark and catchy with sing along choruses and foot stomping beats. Everybody knows someone who swears that all country music sucks. Gallows Bound might just be the band that could change their mind.

Hard touring Detroit psychobilly trio the Koffin Kats took the stage next. Imagine the Stray Cats jamming with the early Misfits and you’d have a pretty good idea what the band sounds like. The singer/bassist swings that big old upright hollow body bass around like it’s an extension of his own arm. He also plucks it and slaps it and even climbs up on top of it. It’s sort of schtick at this point, but it works for them. It also helps that said singer wails like the bastard son of Glenn Danzig and Elvis Presley. I’m not really a big Rockabilly fan, but the Koffin Kats have a good following in GR and always put on an entertaining show.

All the bands seemed to feed off the energy of the capacity crowd of about 140 people, even Guttermouth. The long running Huntington Beach quintet has played Grand Rapids annually for the last few years, but this was probably their most enthusiastic audience. They played their typical goofy show for the drunker than usual Saturday night crowd. In what has also become an annual tradition, Murder Party! bassist Chubby McCarlson took over on lead vocals for two songs including fan favorite “Baker’s Dozen”. The funny thing is, Chubby doesn’t even live in the area anymore. He’ s the rare Guttermouth superfan willing to drive long distances to see the band, and he was rewarded for his loyalty. I’m am not a loyal Guttermouth superfan, but I will give credit where credit is due. Mark Adkins and the rest are still out there doing their thing at a high level, and in this case they were the cherry on top of a really solid night of entertainment.