Generally, bluegrass-tinged folk music is not something I’d consider dance worthy, but after watching Southeast Engine perform at Los Angeles’ Bootleg Bar on Tuesday night, I may have to reconsider.
The Ohio-based quartet revved up its audience as soon as it hit the stage. Led by brothers Adam and Jesse Remnant on vocals/guitar and bass, respectively, the four-piece’s energy was captivating. Though the music emanating from the speakers was twangy and a bit slow at times, the Remnant brothers swayed and jolted on stage, often times looking at each other for added motivation as they vigorously struck their guitar strings and belted out their lyrics.
The brothers’ vivacity also shined in percussionist Leo DeLuca and organist Billy Matheny, as DeLuca set the tempo with steady drumming and Matheny set the tone for each song by playing either jangling Americana riffs or psychedelic ‘60s inspired melodies. Though the spark was ignited, the crowd stood far from the stage, tapping their toes and nodding to the music, hesitant to creep up closer to the band. About halfway through the set, Jesse assured his fans that it was safe closer to the stage and urged them to move up. Everyone in the venue obliged, some even jumping out of their bar stools to get up close. It was as if they were all just waiting for an OK.
This was the show’s turning point. As soon as everyone was on their feet, Southeast Engine’s energy transferred down to the floor and toe taps and nods transformed into gyrating and dancing. From there, it was a constant back and forth. The fire was raging.
And it grew still as the four-piece played selections from its brand new EP Caananville and its sister album, Canary, as well as songs from its 2009 release, From The Forest to the Sea and 2007’s A Wheel Within a Wheel. The performance hit its pinnacle when the band surprised the crowd with a cover of fellow Ohioans, Guided By Voices’, “Tractor Rape Chain.” As Adam and Jesse split vocal duties for the succinct lo-fi pioneers’ tribute, the crowd sang along to every word. It was quite a sight.
If you want to learn more about Southeast Engine, read our interview with Adam Remnant here and for all you fans out there, the band is currently on a nationwide tour! Check out a full list of the remaining dates below.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1: San Francisco, California @ Hemlock Tavern
FRIDAY, AUGUST 3: Happy Valley, Oregon @ Pickathon Music Festival
SATURDAY , AUGUST 4: Happy Valley, Oregon @ Pickathon Music Festival
SUNDAY , AUGUST 5: Happy Valley, Oregon @ Pickathon Music Festival
MONDAY, AUGUST 6: Seattle, Washington @ Sunset Tavern
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8: Fargo, North Dakota @ The Aquarium
THURSDAY, AUGUST 9: Minneapolis, Minnesota @ 7th Street Entry
FRIDAY, AUGUST 10: Spring Green, Wisconsin @ Shitty Barn Sessions
SATURDAY, AUGUST 11: Chicago, Illinois @ Schubas