June 2, 2008
Get saved with Slim Cessna's Auto Clublzplksk]
Last night I went to see Slim Cessna's Auto Club at the Mercury Lounge with a friend who came from another city just to see them. From the little I knew about them, I was expecting a country-gospel influenced rock band, but their live show is more like a 1936 rockabilly pentecostal tent revival, the kind that has snake handling. It was fantastic.
You can walk into a Slim Cessna show and be Jewish or agnostic or a lapsed Catholic or whatever, but you're probably going to come out a member of the Church of God. It's as close to a religious experience as a lot of people in our generation are going to get on a typical day, at least at a rock show. The six members from Denver may look like the bad guys in a Flannery O'Connor story, but they seem like real sweethearts. The band has an album called "Always Say Please & Thank You", which I don't think they mean ironically.
They've got a lot of songs about damnation, but it seems like there are an equal number about Jesus and salvation, too. They're like a gospel band that is totally aware that you've got to do a lot of sinning before you can be redeemed.
The band includes all the standard rockabilly elements you would expect (upright bass, pedal steel guitar, banjo) but there are some surprises too, like a double-neck guitar with a Jesus and Mary hologram. They also yodel.
There are a bunch of pics on Flickr of last night's show and Friday's show in Greenpoint. A few good short videos are up there, too, which give you a little taste of their energetic fervor. Lots more on YouTube.
Also: I was just thinking about Bo Diddley last night--Slim Cessna's rhythmic, reverb-y guitars and dark lyrics reminded me of him. Here's the Times obituary.
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