Slim Cessna's Auto Club - Live in Grand Rapids (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Slim Cessna's Auto Club

Live in Grand Rapids (2015)

live show

Usually when I go to a show, I just want to drink a couple of beers and enjoy myself without going through the trouble of taking notes and writing a review. Sometimes the show is so compelling that I feel the need to share it anyway. Such is the case with Slim Cessna's Auto Club. I went to the show at The Pyramid Scheme in downtown Grand Rapids on Monday May 18th on a whim. I knew of the band from its connection to Alternative Tentacles Records and always enjoyed what I'd heard from them, but never gave it enough time to really get into it. Now that I've seen them live, you can consider me a believer.

Kent County String Band opened the show with a nice set of classic, twangy country. They did a nice job and the small crowd seemed to appreciate them.I found it strange that no one stood in front of the stage. I guess everyone was feeling shy.

When Slim Cessna's Auto Club came out, the growing crowd pressed to the front of the stage like they were hoping to be touched by a faith healer. The band had us spellbound from the first note. Singer Slim Cessna and singer/banjo player/guitarist Jay Munly are both charismatic front men. Munly, who looks like he just climbed from the American Gothic painting, went right into the crowd to sing among us on a couple occasions. Other times the two acted out the songs as they sang them. It was a little strange, a little creepy, and completely absorbing.

The sound would be best described as gothic country mixed with twisted gospel. You could feel yourself being transported from that small club to tent somewhere in the deep south, where a religious revival was taking place. The beer swilling audience was transformed into a congregation worshiping to the mesmerizing hymns. SCAC's songs are almost exclusively about the God of wrath, not the God of love. Forgiveness and redemption always seem just out of reach.

The very talented band featured a banjo/guitar player, a stand-up bass player, a drummer, and a steel guitar player/organist. They all looked the part of a band from the old west. They also did a nice job of contrasting the darker material from the more upbeat stuff. "Rise and shine, and give God the glory!, glory!/Children of the Lord". For 90 minutes we stood transfixed while SCAC delivered tales of salvation and damnation. It was one of those rare shows you could enjoy without knowing a single song beforehand. Many in the crowd however, seemed to know every word.

After the show there was ample proof of a multitude of converts. The previously empty merch booth was filled with people willing to donate their hard earned money to help spread the gospel of Slim Cessna's Auto Club. I believe there's a morality lesson here. If you feel the spirit moving you to go to a show, you'd better answer the call. You might just see the light. I did.