After meeting Shane Sweeney and Micah Schnabel of Two Cow Garage Saturday night, I’m hard pressed to name two dudes who enjoy being in a Rock ‘N’ Roll band and playing live more than they do. It’s evident in their enthusiasm when you get them talking about Two Cow Garage, and it’s even more evident once they plug in, and start blasting away the stage.
I asked Sweeney about what happened with their old drummer, Dustin Harigle, who quit the band just a few weeks back, and what surprised him the most about Harigle’s departure was that he didn’t share their same enthusiasm for the job. Everyone else in the band just assumed that he was in it for the long haul. This left the band in a real tough spot, as they were hours away from leaving on yet another trek across the country, but instead of canceling dates and stewing over this unfortunate turn of events, they decided to get in the van, and do, as Sweeney put it, “The Storyteller’s thing” for a few dates.
Saturday they took the stage as a full five-piece band with a second guitarist, keys, and George Handroulis from Columbus’ Evil Queens filling in on drums. It wasn’t until later in the night that I would find out Handroulis only played a handful of practices and even fewer shows with the band prior to the Beachland set. He fit in so well that by the end of the night Sweeney, Schnabel, and the rest of Two Cow Garage were joking about stealing him away from The Evil Queens.
Fitting in with Two Cow Garage means living, breathing, and sweating small town Rock ‘N’ Roll like the big sing-along chorus of set opener, “The Great Gravitron Massacre,” to revved up rural rockers like “135” and “Come Back to Shelby.” It means hitting every chord on the guitar like it’s your last and pounding that drum like it’s your only way out of that one stoplight town. It’s also a sound tailor made for that old, smoky bar room that clean air laws make harder, and harder to find. The contemplative ballad “Should’ve California” would have been a perfect time to light up before the next tall boy, and the bar room rocker “Now I Know” sure could use that old bar room smell to go along with its gruffy, gravely vocals and wailing six strings.
A running joke through the night was Schnabel’s sarcastic line “Two Cow Garage invented writing songs about small towns.” Well, we all know that they weren’t the first ones to come up with the idea. Yet, when you witness the way they light up the stage, that little bit of revisionism seems almost believable.