Friday, March 2, 2012

Southern Culture On The Skids "8 Piece Box"

In the Spring of 1994 I started my first radio gig, at a small independent station in Southwest Virginia. I had my own, nightly Alternative specialty show.

I think it's kinda hard to grasp today, just how weird it was to hear bands like Green Day and The Ramones and Sarah Mclachlan and The Cure, on a radio station in 1994. Maybe it was normal if you lived near a major metropolitan area. But for most of the country, those artists were sooo far outside the mainstream, that they just weren't going to make it on any radio station.

So my little "What's The Alternative?" program was, to some, a bizarre, welcome oasis. And the fact that I was the host, opened a few doors for me.

There was a great restaurant in town called The Starving Artist. Great, high-end food, in a casual, artsy atmosphere. Several of the people who worked there were well regarded local painters, visual artists and creators. They had a great scene unto themselves.

And because I got off the air around the time they were closing the kitchen, I'd get invited to the head chef's house on the outskirts of town, for a few after-hours beers, where they'd feed me (because I was an impoverished waif) and where we'd talk about and listen to music.

From the get-go, they were selling me on Southern Culture On The Skids.

SCOTS was a regional, hard-touring rock/rockabilly/country/semi-comic party-band, that was soon to be releasing a major label record.

And The Starving Artist was on the verge of celebrating their 10th Anniversary.

"There gonna play right here!" the chef told me, gesturing to his spacious living room area. "You gotta come."

Well, I think we've all been oversold at one time or another, on how great a party is going to be, only to show up and have it fall miles short of expectation . . .

So I said that Yeah, I'd try to come after work.

Let me tell you what I saw when I walked through the door, shortly after midnight on party night.

The room was PACKED with party-goers. 100 people in the living room? Probably.

The band was cooking, in a groove.

The chef was shirtless, in a tiger mask, doing an interpretive dance right in front of the band.

And then they introduced "8 Piece Box."

As part of their tour rider on every show they play, Southern Culture receives a bucket of fried chicken. It is set aside, for when they played "8 Piece Box." They invite a dozen or so girls up on to the stage and the girls eat the chicken while dancing to the song.

Normally (not that this scenario is "normal" by any standard in the first place), the girls stand on stage and vamp and maybe eat the chicken seductively (sexy carnivores!).

But this night, it was more like Velociraptors tearing into carrion.

I remember the maniacal, greasy faces of women with mouthfuls of chicken, tossing the bones out into the audience.

Now I know the bucket of chicken couldn't really have been that big, but when I see it in my mind's eye, dozens of bones flew back and forth above the sweaty, dancing crowd, like the chickens had been partially re-animated, and were trying (but failing) to fly.

Part of me was thrilled that I had somehow stumbled through the door of a secret sub-culture.

Though the really hungry impoverished waif DJ thought it was a big waste of perfectly good chicken.

Hear the song on Youtube.

See a live version with dancing girls on Youtube.

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