Show Review

Southeast Engine, Live at the MOTR Pub

Shawn Braley
It’s hard to do this show justice. It was an awesome show. MOTR Pub on Main Street in Over The Rhine on a calm weekday evening. Southeast Engine is a peculiar band. They can simultaneously mix folk, country, punk and rock and roll without sounding anachronistic or too broad. They are grandiose yet intimate.

MOTR wasn’t crowded, but it wasn’t empty either. 40-50 bodies gathered around the tiny stage as Southeast Engine strummed, plucked, struck, picked and laid it all out for the crowd. They mostly played songs off their latest release, Canary- an amalgamation of everything beautiful about Appalachia. You can feel cool, mountain breeze in each laid back song.

As Adam Remnant’s, the band’s lead singer and guitarist, voice melted through the speakers on Adeline of the Appalachian Mountains, soothing the crowd, causing them to smile and sway together with their PBR in hand.

Jesse Remnant, Adam’s brother, plays bass with smooth precision and provides harmonies that cause the listener to wish they could be around the campfire with these guys.

In between sets, I took a walk down Main Street; still oozing with the simplicity of the evening’s musical accompaniment, I was watching as people walked down the wet streets of Cincinnati. Just about this time, a gentleman came up to me asking for money, which I couldn’t provide due to a lack of green on my person. He proceeded to talk with me, telling me his story. While hearing this, I imagined Southeast Engine’s music as the soundtrack for this moment. A down in his luck guy, living in an abandoned warehouse in Cincinnati and a chubby, suburban raised kid crossing paths; conversing about life and how it gets away from you so fast. Our encounter ended with me buying the guy a pack of cigarettes. He proceeded to tell me how kindness is lost on my generation. I can see where he’s coming from, but Southeast Engine represents kindness to me. They’re songs about longing, searching, loving, losing…these are the universal truth’s we all know. We hear songs about them all the time, but Southeast Engine’s genuine ability to convey the simplistic nature of Appalachia without becoming a characature or derivative is something to be reckoned with.

A stand out track on the band’s latest album, “New Growth”, provides the landscape for Southeast Engine’s vision.

“Old growth framed these houses,
And so what was is no more,
Oh but just as nature’s intended,
New growth is what I’m looking for”

They understand there is a past, they don’t resent it, but they’re moving on. They’re looking forward. It’s what life is about. It isn’t about dwelling or accepting, but searching for this “new growth”.

As my conversation ended with the fellow downtown, and he explained that kindness was missing in the younger generation today, he said he had hope that things would change, and knew it was only a matter of time until he was back on his feet again. “New growth” is what we’re all looking for.