Best Live Band

The Last of the V8s

Time was, just about every car that rolled out of Detroit packed a V8 engine, the monster that drove families to church and propelled teenagers recklessly down back roads after dark. Now, big engines are the albatross around America's gas-guzzling neck, and workaday speed demons are lucky to have a V6 under their sensible hoods. So it's not the Dodge hemi that comes to mind when the Last of the V8s plays but rather a steel-bodied, four-door GM battle cruiser, trashed on the inside, rusty along the bottom, its crackly stereo blasting "I Wanna Be Your Dog." At every live show, band builds an altar to rock, with high priest-cum-lead singer Ryan Mattes sacrificing himself in a frenzy of growls, sweat, stage dives and self-inflicted bloody gashes. Meanwhile, bassist Chico Thunder and guitarist Jay Zastoupil mount roaring assaults; at least once every show, Zastoupil climbs atop Thunder's shoulders to form a chicken-fight totem pole of rock. In the back, Kriss Ward pounds bolts into the foundation, delivering savage backup yeahs into a mic. The overall effect is ridiculously thundering, like a Delta '88 motoring out of control through rush-hour traffic on the Denver-Lincoln-Detroit highway.
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