Rumors surrounding the demise of the Last of the V8s have been greatly exaggerated. While local gossip mills have been buzzing about the band's whereabouts, the group has kept busy touring the left half of the country, where it has built a sizable audience. Following the departure of guitarist Steve Murphy earlier this year, the group is now a quartet, but the leaner lineup hasn't resulted in a loss of grit. Opening for Nashville Pussy at the Bottleneck in June, the V8s turned in a powerful set that proved that its days were far from numbered, and recent shows at the Replay and the Setlist have found the band firing on all cylinders. Better yet, despite a reputation for onstage unpredictability, drunken between-song banter and dubious wardrobe and facial-hair choices, vocalist Ryan Mattes looks and sounds more coherent than he has in many months. Though the band has dubbed its forthcoming show "The Return of the V8s," don't call it a comeback. This rock heavyweight has yet to go down for the count.