Show Review

Southeast Engine @ The Tree Bar

Brian Ahnmark
Coming off a 2011 that was nothing short of triumphant – a nationwide tour, a career-defining record, an appearance on NPR’s “Mountain Stage” with The Jayhawks – one could understand if Southeast Engine paused for a little well-deserved downtime.

Instead, the Athens, OH quartet trekked up to Columbus on Saturday for the grand reopening of The Tree Bar, formerly Andyman’s Treehouse, a familiar and favorite haunt for the band (Sidenote: Unanimous kudos for the state of the new restrooms).

A loose, celebratory spirit infused the performance, comprised primarily of material from the band’s two most recent releases. A rousing “Cold Front Blues” opened the set, with blasts of harmonica and throat-shredding harmonies from brothers Adam and Jesse Remnant. The harrowing tale of the onset of winter – oh so appropriate on the frigid January night – was one of the countless bright spots on Southeast Engine’s 2011 LP Canary , a haunting concept album centered upon a Southeastern Ohio family in the 1930s. While Canary is presented as a 10-song cycle, principal songwriter Adam Remnant recently announced that the band had recorded a four-song EP appendix to Canary for release in 2012. Two of these songs made their live debut on Saturday. The tentatively-titled “Bob & Mary” and “Canaanville” both featured driving rhythms and a mountain music vibe awash in the thematic spirit of Canary .

Live staples “Black Gold” and “We Have You Surrounded” were as spirited as ever, and the combination of anthemic “Preparing for the Flood” and menacing “Malcontent (both from 2009’s From the Forest to the Sea ) gave off a furnace-like warmth in the chilly Tree Bar music room.

Southeast Engine closed the evening with a faithful rendition of Guided By Voices’ “Tractor Rape Chain.” It was a fitting tip o’ the cap from one Ohio band to another.