Review by Sam Parvin; photo by Lauren Betty.
Being the avid live music fan I am, I’m almost ashamed to say that the night of Monday, July 26 was my first visit to East Atlanta’s ultra-hipster new music venue and bar, 529. I was expecting the venue to be a little larger and “fancier” than it is because they have pulled in some darn good and popular acts since its opening less than a year ago. The likes of The Coathangers, The Constellations, and Dead Confederate have left their notes in the walls of 529, and now Lo Country can say the same.
While tattooed patrons painted the otherwise-monochromatic bar and separate music room at 529, it was more of the biker and punk crowd that filled the room than the indie scenesters usually representative of EAV. Lo Country is sometimes described as a punk band, but they are much more than that. Their tunes, mostly older songs written by lead singer and guitarist Brian Iler, engulf head-banging genres across the board. “Cookie Monster,” the first song of the night, is southern fried through and through and evokes a sort of honky-tonk/rock ‘n’ roll style reminiscent of Georgia’s Allman Brothers Band. Iler sings with a southern twinge and talks to his lady, asking, “Hey Cookie, I really wanna know if I’m gonna get home tonight… cuz I gotta work early.”
Much further from the Allman Brothers southern drawl, “Foreign Elvis” is like old-school Green Day, with a much more rock/grunge sound of early ‘90s Seattle. “Burn,” fourth of the night, sings “gonna burn that city down,” affirming that Iler is not singing about burning drugs, but rather his plans to dominate his stompin’ grounds. Half-way through the set, the crowd was pleasingly stunned by a cover of “East Bound and Down,” originally sung by Jerry Reed for the ‘70s movie Smokey and the Bandit, but this time with a new-age rock ‘n’ roll twist to complement its inherent southern drawl.
This four-piece has only been playing together for six months or so, since lead singer Iler corralled the group together via Craigslist, and it is sometimes apparent in their playing. While all of them (Alex Eremin on base and back-up vocals, “Lo Speed” Chase on drums, “Big Peter” Bowers on rhythm guitar and Iler on guitar and lead vocals) are seasoned musicians, they play as such – four well-practiced musicians – not as one cohesive unit. With a year of practice and gracious audiences like that present at 529 on Monday night, and these guys will, as Iler exclaims, “burn that city down.”