$3 PBR bottles was the special.
A folk-rock group with their latest release being a concept album about the Great Depression? Eeech… It was going to take at least 9 bucks just to get through the first few songs. A sawbuck was left on the bar and the gorgeous, pierced Schuba’s bartender seemed to scoff at my lousy tip and lack of taste.
No matter, I had what I needed.
As I waited while Royal Pines (the second act of the night) unplugged and cased their instruments, I started to sip my swill slowly, holding the other two in my hand. Mid-sip, Southeast Engine walked onto the stage. My eyes widened, peering over the beer bottle pressed to my lips, as I noticed two band members were donning wool caps that matched their sweaters’ respective colors perfectly. Another was in a three-piece suit (keyboardist Billy Matheny). I finished the bottle off, swallowed hard and wiped the dribble of beer off my stubbly chin with a groan.
Meanwhile, the remainder of the crowd that hadn’t quickly run out in between sets for a cigarette or another beer cheered.
I felt like the only kid in 3rd grade who knew that Santa Claus was just your ex-con uncle dressed-up in a costume, all over again.
Lead vocalist/guitarist Adam Remnant and vocalist/bassist/brother Jesse Remnant, quickly got on their mics and told the spread-out crowd to come in tight, towards the front of the stage. I dragged my feet as I sauntered.
Then, Adam weakened me. In Dan Auerbach-like (guitarist/vocalist for The Black Keys –my favorite band) fashion, Remnant started the show with “Hey, we’re Southeast Engine and we’re from Ohio.”
And as soon as Adam finished saying it, – flawlessly timed – came the gentle assault of electric guitar finger-picking, spot-on harmonies, juicy harmonica and a reverberating organ that trembled and shook the room.
People started trickling into the dark venue from the disconnected bar. And by the third song (the very song I thought I would be dead by) the room was full. Girls were yelling things at the drummer, Leo DeLuca, like “I’ll see you after the show” and “You’re hot”. It wasn’t long after this that I developed a strong disliking for DeLuca… I’m not sure why.
The night progressed, and I never got to my other two beers. The songs were high energy. The band was affable and entertaining. And the crowd (myself included) was digging Southeast Engine.
The band said goodnight and began to walk off the stage but they were quickly drawn back in as the crowd demanded an encore. As the raucous encore progressed towards its crescendo, Adam, while wailing on guitar, mounted his drummer’s bass drum and strummed the last chord in midair as he jumped back down to the stage.
With everyone in attendance cheering, Adam Remnant put down his guitar, smiling, walked back to the mic and with a shrug said, “That’s it.”
The lights came on and the people slowly filed out into the bar. Most talked about how awesome the show was but at least one person was busy doubting everything he had ever assumed.