Just weeks after St. Patty’s Day, Savannah was once again transformed into an Irish haven at Livewire Music Hall by Celtic rock band Scythian.
The five-man group channeled the exotic beats of their Gypsy and klezmer heritage and fused them with classical technique and a Celtic feel. Their diversity of genre was paralleled in their broad use of instruments—violin, accordion, banjo, rhythm guitar, harmonica, mandolin, bass, drums and vocals.
One might think that the band would get caught up with all of those instruments, but they were all about the crowd. Between each song they joked with the audience and shouted their love for Savannah. During the set break, they hung out at the bar talking to fans and drinking shots of whiskey. Back on stage, a wide grin stretched across each band member’s face and they never broke eye contact with the audience.
Their upbeat attitude was infectious. Scythian rallied the crowd instantly, encouraging the crowd to clap their hands to the beat and raise their drinks. Soon the entire floor was covered with people dancing and singing along. Grown men hopped up and down in carefree abandon, not caring for the beer they spilled onto the floor with each jump. Total strangers suddenly locked elbows to enjoy a hearty jig together. From barely-21-year-olds to couples in their 70s, no one could help but get on their feet and shake it on the dance floor.
This vibrancy and enthusiasm was especially prevalent in what could be called the Irish equivalent of a breakdown. The quickly paced music would suddenly slow down, and the heavy bass and drums would be the only instruments heard for a few moments as the vocalists joined in a low chant. Then all of a sudden the speed and volume exploded with frenzied violin rifts and banjo pickings.
Although Scythian dressed in vests and ties and were trained in classical music, the youthful vigor and exuberance they generated seemed more appropriate for an Appalachian bluegrass festival or a midnight barnyard dance. At one point, two people in the audience revealed themselves as members of the band Passafire and got up on stage to join Scythian in a Celtic rock meets reggae tune reminiscent of Peter Tosh and Dropkick Murphys.
There are some bands that you absolutely have to see live. The energy, enthusiasm, connection with the crowd and pure speed of Scythian simply can’t be duplicated on a CD or YouTube video. But with a history of touring with such bands as Flogging Molly and Old Blind Dogs, Scythian is sure to return to Savannah. Until then, I leave you with lead singer Danylo Fedoryka’s wise words:
“Clap your hands and stomp your feet, but don’t spill your beer, alright?”Contact Mary E. Mueller.