Southern Culture On the Skids tonight at First Avenue


Are you ready to Southern rock? S.C.O.T.S. is. Flask of Jack Daniels is encouraged.

The celebration of southern culture is something that can leave us Yanks, still reveling in a sort of righteous, historical victory, chuckling in haughty amusement. And sure-- various rock acts that have meant to loudly steep themselves in Southern pride have smacked, variously, of ignorance or, worse, pride in vagary (see: Jackyl).

Though pride in the red neck has often made for more bad music (Lynrd Skynrd) than good (uh... we'll get back to you), S.C.O.T.S. is a remarkably good rockabilly outfit that manages to slyly revel in unromantic, gritty musical rebellion, while still winking at its own crapulence.

Southern Culture On the Skids performing "69 El Camino."

What Jerry Lee Lewis unapologetically launched, S.C.O.T.S. has refined (if their blend of remorseless rockabilly can be called "refinement"). It sounds good, it's immediate, and its confederate snarls appeal to the same part of the brain that darkly dared every teenaged boy to draw a swastika in his freshman composition notebook, and then quickly disguise it as a four square window panel before anyone could see: We know it's frowned upon, but the taboo makes it infinitely irresistible, and the enjoyment derived is best kept private.

They've been going strong for over 20 years. When they started, Montgomery was still flying the Confederate flag above the old stars and bars. And yet their music has remained a constant, decidedly punk approach to Ozark tropes that nod to a time when old Jerry Lee was wantonly boning his own underage cousin.

If we're harping too much on the history, it's only because S.C.O.T.S. is most outspoken about their troubled reverie for the southland. We're not trespassing on any forbidden ground-- the band itself flung those gates wide open, and trod around its own turf with as much bravado as any act to come before it. What makes them good is their willingness to venture beyond the sheepfold. You don't have to listen close to hear surf and punk influence in this storied rockabilly outfit.

We're all in favor of dismantling those cultural mores that divide us, even if it means closing one eye to blot out the jean vest with the Confederate banner spread across the shoulders. The music that S.C.O.T.S. pay homage to has done more than its part to make rock and roll a relevant, dangerous form of music.

18+. 8:00 P.M. $13.00 advance/ $15.00 door. With Los Straightjackets. First Avenue Main Room, 701 First Avenue North, Minneapolis; 612.338.8388.