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SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS

PLUSH

Wednesday, Sept. 15

Even though I don't eat meat, fried chicken remains one of my favorite subjects for song lyrics.

Plush was a great place to see rock 'n' roll workhorse Southern Culture on the Skids, because you could stand by the door while they played and wallow in the occasional breeze while smelling a little cigarette smoke. The band won't wave it in your face that drinking, smoking and eating badly are the best ways to live, but they will remind you.

Since 1983, Southern Culture on the Skids has played a Southern-tinged combination of surf rock, country music and old-style rhythm-and-blues. The band is versed in all forms of reverb-ridden riffage and pulls it off with a heavy dose of vice-driven humor.

During the first hour of the Plush show, the band pulled heavily from its latest release, The Kudzu Ranch. In some cases, the technique of hoarding the old stuff could be seen as a ploy to hold the audience's attention, but in this instance, the set list served as a testament to the band's longevity. The crowd reacted to new songs like "My Neighbor Burns Trash" and "Highlife" as enthusiastically as SCOTS standards such as "Banana Puddin'" and their top- shelf cover of the Shirley Ellis standard "The Nitty Gritty." Perhaps too enthusiastically: A few middle-age couples were compelled to make out periodically throughout the show, but bad behavior across the board was excused. Everyone seemed to be having fun for their own reasons, and that's never a bad thing.

Better-known songs were reserved for the end of the set, when everyone was settled in. But nobody was in a hurry to get there, and rightfully so. The band's performance was a slow burn during their more surf-inspired fare, where the riffs are evoked from the layer of water that hovers over the exposed asphalt. When the band swelled up, they gave off that feeling you get when you get too close to a hot grill—but you don't mind, for some reason.

Southern Culture on the Skids doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Like a cocktail party in the back of an old car at sundown, you hope the show will never end.

More by Billups Allen

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