Sunday, May 1, 2011

Of Southeast Engine, Echo & and the Bunnymen Covers, and Allen Ginsberg

It begins with Allen Ginsberg. It always begins with Allen Ginsberg. And this Friday night, it began with Allen Ginsberg--or at least a man with his glasses and hazed stare--hitting on my mom on the Casa Cantina dance floor.

Yes friends, it is Moms Weekend in Athens and as we all know, when spring dawns on this town things can get a little preposterous. We know this, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

The walk from West Green to Casa alone proved that Athens would be in top form: encounters with Rick the Court Street pianist, two dueling violinists outside of Bagel Street, the late-night accordionist making a rare appearance before after hours, and even an enthusiastic breakdancer outside of the diner. There were almost as many street performers on Court Street Friday as there are bars. I love this town.

We arrived at Casa just in time to catch the beginning of opening act Wolf Ram Heart’s set. We also beat the door man--cheating Casa out of cover charge is a rare and exciting feat. I almost felt bad about it until the front man of Southeast Engine congratulated us. If the headliner sanctions it, it’s fair game. But I digress: Wolf Ram Heart.

Let’s talk about Wolf Ram Heart. Like most people who were raised on too much VH1 Classic, I love Pink Floyd but I also love to hate on all other forms of prog rock, all the time, always, no exceptions. Wolf Ram Heart is the exception. I loved their set. They played flawlessly and got people dancing, high praise for an opening act. The highlight was their cover of “Lips like Sugar”-- nothing gets the cougars boogieing like Echo & the Bunnymen.

After Wolf Ram Heart went Scubadog. It was their first show with their new drummer and I have to say it was a success. Whether their guitarist is using his capo as a slide or they are using an ipad as a musical instrument, Scubadog never fails to change things up and have a good time. Their set was great and Jesse Remnant from Southeast Engine even got up to play moroccos for them.

Speaking of Southeast Engine... Athens loves Southeast Engine. They are the kings of Casa Cantina. They might be on Daytrotter, but they are NOT a “national act.” They are our act, and they are great at it. They introduced tunes from their latest album Canary, which they referred to as their “ode to Athens,” and each one was a hit in its own right. Whether singing devastatingly poetic ballads about Appalachian coal miners or upbeat toe-tappers, Southeast Engine knows how to put on a great live show. They recognize that the surest way to a girl’s heart is with a harmonica but make no mistake, these boys can JAM when they are compelled.

A “bro” in the front row who had a few too many tried to get loud with Southeast Engine, but no one messes with the kings in their castle. Their drummer, always one for entertaining facial expressions, exclaimed “Shut up!”--while simultaneously accomplishing an excellent fill, I might add--and the offender retreated into the shadow of his flat-brim baseball cap, not to be heard from again.

When the set was over, Athenians of course begged for more, and the boys of Southeast Engine, like the gentlemen that they are, gave the crowd a choice: “Would you like rock first? Or anthem?” “BOTH!” we exclaimed, and they obliged, ending with a guitar solo off of the base drum. If only there would have been slashing windmills involved. Maybe next time Casa...

-Amanda Norris, Staff Writer

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