Concert Review

The Big Lebowski Ball at Kings, 3/23/2024

“Yeah, well, you know, that’s just like, uh, your opinion, man”

Jeff Bridges as The Dude, “The Big Lebowski” dir. Joel & Ethan Cohen, 1998

I’m sure most of you are well aware, but Kings is a gem in the middle of downtown Raleigh. 

The sound is good, and the beer is cheap — what more could you ask for? 

On Saturday evening, March 23, 2024, the Kings stage transformed into an altar of bowling pins and White Russians in honor of “The Big Lebowski’s” 25th Anniversary. 

A cavalcade of Carolina bands took to the stage with songs from — and inspired by the soundtrack in the name of The Dude as well as A Place At The Table, a pay-what-you-can cafe in Raleigh. 

Once again, good music for a good cause  — what more could you ask for?

For those not in the know, “The Big Lebowski” is a 1998 American crime-comedy written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. 

It follows Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski as he tries to get restitution for his ruined rug after being mistaken for a millionaire of the same name. 

Simple enough, Right?


“The Big Lebowski” Trailer from YouTube.

Sights & Sounds:

Harrison & Wentz Presents both opened and closed the show with their deliciously saccharine cowboy tunes, pulling “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” by the Sons of Pioneers directly from the film’s soundtrack as well as “Dead Flowers” as played by Townes Van Zandt. 

Harrison and Wentz Presents at Kings, March 23, 2024. Photo by Emma Bookhardt.

With a delightfully antiquated energy, the duo’s delicate harmonies lulled the crowd into a heavy, dedicated silence. 

We also saw quite a bit of Matt Southern & Lost Gold, supported by Kit McKay, during the night. 

McKay brought the crowd in with a twangy rendition of Bob Dylan’s “The Man In Me” and later “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by the Eagles, which would not be the last we would hear of the California country-rock standards. 

Kit McKay backed by Matt Southern & Lost Gold at Kings, March 23, 2024. Photo by Emma Bookhardt.

And yes, he is dressed as the toe, eagle eyed readers.

At this point, the crowd becomes an integral part of our story: a sea of bathrobe, boxer, and Birkenstock-wearing fans congregated in their best dude-esque attire to pay tribute to the Los Angeles slacker. 

However, it’s the man in sweatpants one must watch. 

While I’m thinking about the Eagles, let’s bring another band into the mix.

Clad in ever-appropriate bowling shirts, Cape Fear-based Rita Cascia brought a synth-laden “Hotel California” cover complete with well-timed air horns on the “Mirrors on the Ceiling” line. 

Rita Cascia at Kings, March 23, 2024. Photo by Emma Bookhardt.

With that imagery, I would like to introduce you to the man I know only as Will-Sasso-In-A-Wig. 

Dressed like your high school gym coach, beer in hand, face flushed and ruddy, his head bobbed up and down in time with the beat in a toned-down version of the Bushwhacker’s stomp – that one’s for my wrestling fans – and your traditional shimmy-shake. 

But no, he wasn’t the only one cutting a rug, not by far.

Now, I’d like you to meet Mr. UNC-Adidas-Groove Machine. 

Well over six feet tall, mostly leg and knees of steel, the Groove-Machine alternated between a shimmy, shuffle, twist, and thrash with equal gusto.

It didn’t matter the song or the band; if it moved him, he moved.

He should get an Adidas sponsorship for moves like that, to paraphrase the woman in the crowd next to me. And, ma’am, I agree. 

Finally, out of our cast of characters, we have the mysterious man in a quarter zip.

As a well-to-do middle-aged man, I could’ve easily categorized him as an uptight banker or perhaps even a lawyer. 

But appearances, my friends, are deceiving.

Once again, Rita Cascia’s fuzzy-buddy-holly-power-pop-punk got people up and moving with a cover of “Viva Las Vegas,” most of all our mysterious man in the quarter zip. 

From somewhere in the back of the room near the bar, he made it to the front of the club like a man on a mission; bodies in the crowd parted like the Red Sea as he made his charge with a beer in hand held high, thunderously bellowing the rallying cry of “Viva Las Vegas!” with his chest only to disappear into the ether once again at the song’s conclusion. 

Matt Southern & Lost Gold at Kings, March 23, 2024. Photo by Emma Bookhardt.

But Bodhi, Why Does It Matter?

Now, I highlight these majestic moments of exuberant humanity for one reason alone: They added so much character to the night. 

Across the Coen Brothers’ filmography, the duo revels in capturing the absurdity of mundanity, and this experience was no different. 

Retrospectively, what won me over about this show was the sense of community I felt there, even as an outsider to the in-crowd. 

Bands mingled, danced, and sang with one another; groups mingled and jumped carelessly from conversation to conversation; jokes and quotes flew freely across the floor as costumes were compared and complemented. 

For three scant hours, we came together all because The Dude abides. 

Remember, a good rug really ties a room together – Bodhi

By Bodhi

Human Dewey Decimal System for all things music and movies, purveyor of useless knowledge.