NYC’s Knitting Factory smelled like teen spirit, angst, and a lot of other things. Appropriate, since Denmark’s HorrorPops are hell’s perfect party band. Of course, not everything went according to these psychobilly freaks’ plans. The sextet (on tour promoting their second album, Bring It On!) took the stage a little after 9 pm only to find themselves facing sporadic power outages. The band had to stop short during their opening song and lead singer/bassist Patricia Day, fiercely plucking her stand-up bass (which was just as tattooed as she was), got a bit frustrated. Nevertheless, the band roused the crowd and assured them that good times were still ahead. The roadies eventually won the fight with the power and the show pressed on. Quickly, you got the idea: HorrorPops are like Blondie in the Cramps’ lipstick. There’s lots of makeup, weird hair, and pummeling chords, not to mention two pierced and tattooed go-go dancers (Kamilla and NoNo). The dancers provided unexpected entertainment, flailing and whirling in combative fashion around guitarists/vocalists Kim Nekroman and Geoff Kresge. It was easy to see that both men — cloaked in beautifully-tasteless, psycho-punk garb (including flat-top hair and eyeliner) — enjoyed the attention. And why not? Kamilla and NoNo were a little hard to resist at times, acting like two dangerously sexy vixens whose movements were inextricably linked to the band’s sometimes-sexy sound.
The group bolted out lively new tracks, sending fists into the air and inciting moshing all around. “Kool Flattop”, from their first album Hell Yeah!, was a great tune, with an addictive ’70s punk thump. Even the country-crooning swagger of “S.O.B.” was a hit with the audience. Great costumes and great sounds aside, there were times when it seemed like HorrorPops were just going through the motions. Though their colorful-yet-crazed appearance could suggest otherwise, this wasn’t something out of a Gwar concert. Maybe it seemed like it should have been, and the whole thing became like waiting for Jack to leap from the box. The band does look confident in its own skin, however, pressing forward when necessary and backing off when needed. That said, fans of HorrorPops — while carrying a genuine loyalty to the group — just didn’t jump and pounce and thrash like they did for the Briefs. An extremely animated 4-piece punk band, the Briefs were the second opening act and put on a blazing set that got the Knitting Factory slam dancing. HorrorPops, on the other hand, were more of a hybrid, allowing the sound to leap from snarly chord punches to tunes with more complex dynamics. For many of the older rockers — wearing spike-studded leather jackets under faces traced with inevitable age — the show must have felt like a flashback. Many seem to compare HorrorPops to bands like the Misfits, whose legendary rise to fame included not only hardcore delight, but a wacky, often ominous stage presence. It’s not much of a stretch. The great thing about HorrorPops, is that, much like the Misfts, they’re all about standing out and creating a memorable persona. If you didn’t know or even like the songs, you at least got to know the faces. They took the stage commanding your attention, and you had no choice but to give in.