Concert Reviews

A Weekend Show Featuring Goats, Lightning and Reverend Dead Eye

Henderson, Colorado is not exactly the place where you'd expect to see live music, much less from a known figure like Reverend Dead Eye. North of Commerce City, Henderson isn't necessarily easy to get to or find despite its proximity to the city. Broken Shovels Farm, the venue for this weekend's show, sits on far north Dahlia Street, a rural edge of the Denver metropolitan area. Looking over Reverend Dead Eye's shoulder during the show you could see the distant lights of downtown Denver's high rise buildings — a glowing reminder that, despite being on a farm, you weren't exactly home, home on the range.

Finding a particular farm house on a street full of them and few markings in the relative dark of night made tracking down Broken Shovels Farm a trick of educated guesswork. But once you found parking next to the house, all you had to do was follow the lights and music. Behind the house, Dead Eye and company had set up a shelter, adorned with small Christmas lights, over the stage between the house and the goat pen. 

Earlier in the evening, before sunset, Reverend Dead Eye had played a few songs before the rains came in and shut down the proceedings for a short while. Throughout the night (including a second set where drummer Alex Hebert joined Dead Eye on stage), two amps blew or otherwise malfunctioned. It was a continuation of the bad luck facing the show — Pine Hill Haints and Clara Belle and the Creeps had to bow out of the original line-up due to illness.

But Dead Eye and Hebert made the best of it and performed several of the Rev's older songs and some newer material that some of us longtime fans haven't yet seen. That the show was actually happening under something like a tent just added to the revival feel of some of the music. But Dead Eye has grown far beyond the hellfire and brimstone and gospel blues of his earlier creative incarnations. At times, the music and performance was more reminiscent of Otis Redding, because it was soulful and bridging the gap between R&B and gospel in an unconventional way.

As if to accentuate Hebert and the Rev's emotional conjuring, lighting broke the sky — at first an orange haze, then grey and ink-black. Seeing as the Rev, who lives on the farm, has only ever had one other show at the place in the three years he's lived there, it felt like getting to see a house show, but one attended not just by humans but goats that milled about to feed or, for a particularly adventurous among them, look through the fence at the strange creatures watching one of their caregivers making noises with a friend. Yet it didn't seem surreal to us humans, and the odor of the farm, not even particularly strong, was a nice, grounding reminder that our food doesn't often originally come from the urban environment — an experience one simply can't have at a typical music venue, commercial, DIY or otherwise. 

Critic’s Notebook

Bias: Been of fan of Brent Burkhart's (Reverend Dead Eye) music since seeing one of his older bands, the Bedraggled, in 2000.

Random Detail: Alex Hebert's father attended the show.

By the Way: Reverend Dead Eye will be touring Europe in September and will hopefully have his new album out by then.

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If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.
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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.