Southeast Engine/The Love Shots; March 25, 2011; House Café, Dekalb
I’ve been to the House Café on three separate occasions and every time it is the same story. The crowds are promising early, but once the local openers are done all their friends split. My guess is that it’s because they are underage and it’s a Friday night. It was no different tonight. There were a fair amount of people scattered around the Café’s eclectically decorated room for the Love Shots opening set, but many of them left by the time Southeast Engine started their set. They definitely missed the better band. The Love Shots were fine, well, other than their silly name, but their music seemed pretty pedestrian next to the Engine’s unique folk rock which sounds backwoods but is pretty sophisticated all the same.
I’d gotten an advance copy of Canary (out March 29) from my friends at Bloodshot Records (which took over distribution for the like-minded MISRA label after it looked like it was doomed) and I hadn’t stopped listening to it for two weeks. Honestly, if I worked in a room by myself instead of with four other folks, I literally wouldn’t have stopped. Out of respect for people who aren’t as enthusiastic as I am, I tried to keep it to five or less plays a day. It wasn’t easy. There’s something about lead singer Adam Remnant that appeals to my affection for non-traditional voices. There’s a lot of emotion wrapped up in every word he sings, and it makes for some pretty addictive stuff. It was good therapy to hear these songs that I couldn’t get out of my head played live, especially the lovely “Adeline of Appalachia.”
Live the band’s sound isn’t quite as lush as the recording. The violins and banjo are absent, but the essence of the songs remains intact. I am usually not a fan of keyboards which are too often cheesy, but in this case it sounded like a real piano, and it was awesome. Not only that, but keyboard player Michael Lachman was totally charming, admitting during sound check that his microphone would only be used for telling jokes before going on to tell a few, some of which were even funny. I knew nearly every song in the set which drew heavily from the new record. A few more songs came from 2009’s From the Forest to the Sea which I ordered after meeting drummer Leo DeLuca at SXSW 2010. Admittedly it had more to do with the fact that he had put out Theodore’s Hold You Like a Lover on his own label than it had to do with his band, but I’ve been an Engine fan ever since. Now that I know that the touring band is only four people and not the mini-orchestra, I’m more convinced than ever they should play the basement.
The Love Shots