Stray Cats strut their stuff at reunion show

Credit: John Gilholley

OC Weekly: “The Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa was crowded with rockabillies, rockafillys, chilli-billies, psychobillies and whatever other sub-group you can slap that suffix on….the venue’s amphitheater was filled with folks who lived through the first wave of rockabilly, the second wave of rockabilly, the third wave–what wave are we on now? I’ve lost count.

“That’s right–Setzer, Phantom and Rocker, the holy trinity of the rockabilly revival of the 1980s, the union that launched a zillion pompadours and single-handedly raised stock in Gretsch guitars and Lucky Strike cigarettes in the day, re-re-reunited this year.

“So while it may have been a surprise to some when the Stray Cats announced via social media this spring they were reuniting after a 10 year hiatus, it wasn’t much of a surprise that they chose to reunite in just two places: Las Vegas (at Ingram’s Viva Las Vegas this April) and Costa Mesa. Not New York or UK where they have early roots, not the obvious choice of LA, not Japan (they’re big in Japan, you know). Good old Orange County, California. In 2008, the Stray Cats said “goodbye” on the same Pacific Amphitheater stage during their farewell tour.

“And so for two nights only, Thursday and Friday, the Stray Cats came to Costa Mesa to “rock this town” and that they did. They did not “rip this place apart” as their signature song goes–(they’re no longer the same twenty something punk kids that wrote that neo-swing anthem in the 1980s, and besides the Pac Amp has a strict 10 p.m. sound curfew).

“But they did deliver a rock steady beat of the hits that made rockabilly radio friendly along with tributes to the artists of the 1950s who inspired them. The band walked out to the sounds of Eddie Cochran (a permanent resident of Orange County) playing his hit “C’mon Everybody”. The trio greeted the crowd and then kicked off the set with a vivacious performance of “Runaway Boys”.

“I guess we shouldn’t have waited so long, huh?” Setzer asked the crowd at the end of the set. As the Stray Cats enter what will be 40 years of rocking and rolling towns across the world (they formed in 1979), 2018 was as good a time as any to reunite. Though there are no future dates currently lined up, we’re stoked the Stray Cats chose our backyard to host to the welcome home party.

Read Taylor Hamby’s full article HERE

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