I have been watching Slim Cessna’s Auto Club since their first Denver shows in 1992 and I have to say, this band still knocks me out! Sold out New Year’s shows at the Bluebird Theatre and the impossibly packed Lion’s Lair, oh those were the days! Fast forward 22 years and Slim Cessna and his banjo-playing partner in crime, Munly are still a timeless, hardcore alt country force to be reckoned with. This band eludes any specific genre, as you can find pieces of religious gospel, classic country, gothic hillbilly, blues and rock all commingling beneath a dark and gritty veil. With Lord Dwight Pentacost on the guitar and Daniel Grandbois at the standup bass, mix in the dark and lovely harmonies and a pedal steel guitar…oh how I love their rough eclectic sound! You can dance, you can sing, you can yodel, you can two-step, square-dance and bang your head, all at the same show. How many bands can you say that about?
I was buzzing with excitement when I find out Slim and the gang were playing a show in LA, as I am painfully overdue for a shot of their musical brew. The venue was The Echo in the SilverLake/Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Gotta say, not exactly my cup of tea, but in all fairness, there were no major issues. The venue is nothing much to look at; basic small rock club… an all black room with some cushioned bench seating to the side and virtual future lung cancer ward on the back patio filled with your typical LA hipsters. However, the really noteworthy feature of this venue is its sound system. It ROCKS.
This was a live show of the greatest of the Greatest Hits of Slim Cessa’s Auto Club. Starting the show with an extend-o version of “He, Roger Williams,” the crowd was entranced by Reverend Slim Cessna and was already begging for more. Munly’s “Magalina Hagalina Boom Boom” revved the crowd up even further with cheers that would rival a much larger venue. The energy in the room was ablaze with the edgy, sexy “Red Pirate of the Prairie.” Fists were pumping and heads were bobbing along with “This is How We Do Things in the Country,” and arms were waving in unison for their hardcore gospel hit “Children of the Lord.” God damn, I LOVED watching the band blow people’s minds. Looking around at the 30-something-ish, uber-hipster crowd, some were singing along with all the lyrics while others simply looked stupefied and bewildered at what they were experiencing. I think they were waiting to witness a laying on of hands and hear Slim start speaking in tongues. I swear, I could actually SEE people at the point of connection to the music and letting themselves go with this strangely hypnotic sound that is Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. There were most definitely a large number of converts last night at The Echo. As they played “A Smashing Indictment of Character” and “That Fierce Cow is Common Sense in a Country Dress” the crowd and the band had become one as Slim and Munly made their way in and out of the crowd, getting us all down on the floor with them and jumping up again like a bunch of kids playing Simon Says. It was such a thrill to see that Slim Cessna’s crowds love them just as much in cities outside their hometown of Denver. Why is this band not playing bigger venues like The Hollywood Bowl? People would go NUTS for these guys on a larger scale.
Slim and Munly singing, swaying and dancing their fancy footwork in sync, their playful theatrics, just too much! “Cranston” is another one of those songs that just mesmerizes the crowd. They have always been such an amusing band to watch perform live. Regardless of your musical tastes, if you have a pulse, you will be anticipating their next move and dancing right along with them.
Ending the night with “Hold My Head” as Slim surfed out into the crowd and was delivered safely back to the stage by his loyal congregation where he proclaimed, “We’re Slim Cessna’s Auto Club from Denver, Colorado. Thank you! We’ll see you next time everyone!” Whew! We made it! Hot, sweaty and satisfied. Ears and spirits have been filled and lifted with The Good Word of Slim Cessna. If only all preachers and sermons were like this, churches would be packed every Sunday. If given the chance, see them live or at least check them out online. You will be born again.
Rise and shine and give God the glory…Children of the Lord!