Southern Culture on the Skids – The Bowery Ballroom – May 19, 2009

May 20th, 2009
(Photo: Ron Keith)

(Photo: Ron Keith)

In certain New York City music circles, and particularly with many bands that come through the Bowery Ballroom doors, it is (apparently) uncool to dance. Hence the notorious NYC arms-crossed head bop. However, Southern Culture on the Skids is one of those bands that is just impossible not to dance to. For more than 20 years, the North Carolinian trio—vocalist-guitarist Rock Miller, vocalist-bassist Mary Huff and drummer Dave Hartman—has been playing an infectious blend of surf, Americana, R&B and rockabilly that just begs for at least a little shimmy. SCOTS shows are more than just a dance party, though. The group aims to entertain with lyrics that often reference white-trash culture, sex and food, and almost each song in Tuesday night’s set was accompanied by a joke. “The Wet Spot” calls for lyrics full of sexual innuendo but plays as a surf-tastic instrumental. However, in true SCOTS fashion, Miller followed it up by commenting, “That’s something you really don’t want to roll over into.”

Later in the set, Miller dedicated the country song “My House Has Wheels” to those fans who came from the outer boroughs, where single-wides and double-wides have the space to reside. After much heckling, he changed the dedication to those who came from New Jersey. Miller’s and Huff’s voices play wonderfully off each other, with each being able to bend to complement the individual song. Miller easily plays up the country twang when needed, while Huff switches between harmonious background vocals and a center-stage seductive lull. SCOTS’ Tuesday night rock ’n’ roll party showcased the band’s mastery of multiple musical genres and impeccable ability to keep the kitsch from becoming ridiculous, even after all the years. —Kirsten Housel