Even though it generally gets high mark from
Atlanta-based music publications, I personally don't go to Smith's
Olde Bar very often. In fact, the last time I went there was
to see the Brave Combo in May 2003. But, based on a friend's
recommendation, I ventured out on a Monday night to see Portland,
Oregon's I Can Lick Any S.O.B. in the House.
Although I had been told that the first band would go by 9
or so, when I got there, the time had been pushed back a bit.
While this type of delay is typical of Smith's, I should not
have worried because things got rolling by 9:30. First up were
Atlanta band The Cogburns. I had not seen them before, primarily
because more than one individual had told me I wouldn't care
for them. In fact, I had been really put off when a friend described
them as "misogynistic cock rock", so I had just kind
of mentally dismissed them.
However, listening to my friends was apparently a bad thing. Why? Because I
actually really liked The Cogburns. On this night, I thought
they sounded like a Ramones meets early Rolling Stones style
combo. For instance, in a typical garage band, you normally
hear a lot of vocal yelling and screaming. In contrast, Glenn
(the lead singer) actually manage to hold a tune, and the rest
of the band pulled off some nice harmonies. Furthermore, the
addition of Johnny Knox as a second guitarist seemed to add
a fullness and roundness to their overall substance. Finally,
drummer Marc and bassist Vid put together a heavy sounding low
end, which made their sound engaging yet somehow familiar. In
other words, although things sounded a bit sloppy or rough at
times, musically The Cogburns were quite fun and interesting
and I'd definitely go see them again. Certainly the small crowd
around me agreed, as they yelled and applauded at the end of
After a short break, I Can Lick Any S.O.B. in the House took
the stage. They are a raucous sounding 5 piece, with two guitars,
bass, drums and…harmonica. I know, that seems like a strange
line-up, but harmonica guy was very important to the band's
overall sound, since he played a prominent melodic role, much
like that of a lead guitarist. Taken as a whole, S.O.B. came
across as a twangy rock band, much like that of the early Atlanta
Redneck Underground bands, back before alt.country became emasculated.
Content-wise, the band was very political and seemed determined to get across a message that is both specifically against the current administration and more generally again the moralistic tenets of certain elements of present day American society. For instance, there was a nicely vulgar and crude commentary about the Westboro Baptist Church and their anti-gay proselytizing. While some people might be put off by the in your face political statements of a song like that, I have to confess that it's nice to hear a musician take a stance beyond, "Go Vote" or "Down with Bush!" and be unafraid about how their views are perceived. It reminds me of the early California punk bands, and was quite refreshing.
Furthermore, all of this commentary was backed up by a very good band who demonstrates the value of touring and playing out. The music was quite tight, and again, the low end seemed quite prominent (maybe it's something about the mix). And, like The Cogburns, I really really liked them.
So when the show ended before 11:30, I was kind of disappointed. I wanted either and/or both bands to go back on and do just one more. But, since I spend much of my time complaining about late show times in Atlanta, I should probably think better of this request. Anyway, all I know is that it was a good night with good music. And considering I had never seen either band previously, it was an evening well worth spending out.