Rockabilly-Americana band Petunia and the Vipers delivers toe-tapping rhythms with lyrics sure to make your spine shiver like a sharp shot of whiskey. Pull out your flask (liquor optional) and slap on your best pair of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas shades to properly experience the Vipers’ latest, hauntingly charismatic album, Dead Bird On the Highway (2016).
Ron Fortugno (Petunia) and his Vipers began in 2007 as an on-and-off band from Vancouver, British Columbia. After a decade of laying down 10 full-length albums, the group has honed a cohesiveness among their separate sounds. Stephen Nikleva (electric guitar, mandolin) and Jimmy Roy (lap steel, electric guitar) fuse together Latin American and Americana melodies, while Patrick Metzger (stand-up bass, acoustic guitar) and Paul Townsend (drums, percussion) swing between hasty and lazy ragtime tempos.
Fortugno laces the Vipers’ sounds together with undeniably powerful wails and yodels that rattle each song to its classically country core, which he sprinkles with influences of Spanish ballads and steel guitar work.
Together, Petunia and the Vipers bring an emotional wave to each song — a weighted vulnerability. Their lyrics are grim and shoot straight for the heart, yet they’re delivered on melodies you’d find at a booze-soaked hoedown.
Call it grit or call it depression, Petunia and the Vipers conjure hauntingly contagious tunes that make you want to dance on trouble’s doorstep. Catch the band 8 pm Friday, Aug. 11, at Hi-Fi Music Hall; $10 adv., $12 at the door. 21 and up. — Kelsey Anne Rankin