Last Night: Scott H. Biram at the Continental Club

Scott H. Biram
Continental Club
September 1, 2007

Better Than: Sniffing the gasoline fumes on your fingers for 10 minutes following the last time you filled up.

Download: "Dirty Old One Man Band," to prepare yourself for the live experience; one of his three non Bloodshot releases if you’re more interested in trying to impress people.

"Who wants some of this shit?"

Scott H. Biram sat in the middle of the stage with a half wall of guitar amps at his back and tore into "Green Onions" with an aural bombast that defines "cacophonous."

The affectation of technical mastery has an insidious way of provoking bias when you’re dealing with any blues based music, especially the ultra-visceral brand played by a haggard and surly guy who has no use for backing musicians.

Biram stands out in his willingness to let rip with sloppy playing. Despite his myriad influences, he is believable because of his grit and the simple, elusive wisdom of knowing when it’s best to not care too much.

A Scott H. Biram show fees like going over to your buddy’s place and gathering around the porch with beer to watch him burn through some tunes. Biram’s "set list" – which he waved at the audience later in the evening – consisted of a few hundred songs he either wrote or has learned along the way, and it didn’t include any of the Dylan or Van Zandt ("‘Cause that might get me fucked in the butt, and I know ‘em by heart, anyway," said Biram).

The first half of Biram’s set was unrelenting and featured the usual run of songs about chicken (or chickens), songs by Muddy Waters, songs that Biram claims were written by Muddy Waters (". . . back in the year 19-and-whatever the fuck.") and a good number of songs by "a guy named Scott H. Biram, who was a crazy motherfucker."

Biram’s crazy redneck schtick wore thin after 45 minutes or an hour, when the whiskey shots caught up and his belligerence and faux-homophobia seemed to come more naturally.

"Who wants to fuck?!" Biram yelled at one point, then rolled out his line about wanting to dry hump the entire audience. "You’ll wish you were not born. I wasn’t born," he mumbled before his left foot lead the way into "Blood, Sweat and Murder."

Before Biram got loaded, he was a ringer for the 21st century version of the devil possessed blues man. When at his best, it’s difficult to imagine he was ever born, and it seems entirely possible that he simply manifested alongside a dark dirt road one night with nothing but a weathered guitar and a grudge.

When a young woman went to wave goodbye between songs, Biram screamed "Wait! Don’t goddamn go anywhere yet; I’ve got something for you." She defied him and headed for the door. Biram put down his head and played the most vicious and haunting version of Zeppelin’s "Dazed and Confused" the audience will ever hear. It was harrowing, painful and like a knife twisted in your gut. It sounded like a busted speaker at the Crossroads, and I will remember it as one of the most intense moments of live music I’ve ever witnessed.

The rest of the show was a whirlwind of angry, soggy blues, chaotic slide guitar, rebel yells and a thick smattering of "goddamn" and "fuck." In other words, it was a Scott H. Biram gig, and – had the storms outside still been rolling – the whooping and hollering that followed Biram off the stage would’ve drowned out the thunder. That is, if it could’ve overcome the feedback. – Chris Henderson

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: For long, lonely drives through the night, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better anthem than "Lost Case of Being Found."

Random Detail: Each of Biram’s shot glasses ended up in pieces, spread across the floor at stage right, excepting the shards that I later pulled out of the bottom of my boots, or the few chunks that were picked up by audience members muttering something about "these being worth some money some day."