by Seth Graves
So look, I don't want to get in a whole big thing about it, what it is, what it isn't, or what it's supposed to say about me, but I fucking love punk rock. And it is punk that is often (for me at least) the saving grace of this thing. Nine times out of 10, trying to see any band that's regularly featured on your Old Kentucky Blogs or Stereogums is a dumb idea. Mainly because there's going to be several hundred blog-happy new music enthusiasts who'll beat you to the punch, forcing you to stand in a ridiculously long line. And secondly, most of those bands are going to play Mercy Lounge at some point this year anyway. Oddly enough, the bands that are probably never going to play Nashville are often the easiest to see.
For example, I was one of maybe 50 folks who made it out to Mess With Texas at 3 p.m. to see OFF!, a new project featuring Keith Morris from the Circle Jerks/Black Flag and Steve McDonald from Red Kross (who also produced both Be Your Own Pet albums). It sounded basically like you'd expect: medium-fast, loud, angry, simple '80s L.A. style hardcore, not as trashy as early Red Kross, but not as sloppy as early Black Flag. Due to some discrepancies, they ended up sharing their set with Whoa Hunx who, as a small-time local punk band would have been sufficiently entertaining, but as a nationally touted act just weren't much to blog about. Melodic riffs with yapping monotone female vocals followed the formula well enough, but offered little in the way of imagination or a discernible, memorable song.
After a little roaming, I settled at Beerland, where a shirtless King Louis and his Missing Monuments were rocking out some garage-flavored Memphis-style power pop and Digital Leather broke down some new wave-style punk. Beerland is a dank-ass, musky hole in the wall that only participates in non-official showcases. Years upon years of rock show abuse has worn it down smooth like an old piece of beach wood, and I've found it an incredibly reliable place to catch a show in those confused moments where I'm not sure where to go next.
Portland electro-ternative duo Yacht played four times yesterday, and I caught them twice (once at Carniville, then at the Billboard Bungalow) -- mostly because, despite repeated attempts over the past three years, I can't seem to book them in Nashville. Yacht have come a long way since the bedroom-recorded electro-grunge records Jonas Bechtolt was churning out in its early days -- and even more since I first got to see them two years ago at SXSW when Bechtolt's girlfriend Claire Evans had just officially joined the band. Both their songs and live shows have gotten increasingly elaborate, their live shows typically feature epileptic visual projections, and with their new record See Mystery Lights they've adopted a cultish, spiritual/paranormal shtick that seems to be working for them. They've got a full band on this tour called The Straight Gaze ("straight gays," get it?) which makes for a few extended jams and live interaction that's often missing from the old guy-with-a-laptop routine. Oh, and keeping with the punk theme, they covered both X and "Waste of Time" from Ladies and Gentlemen ... The Fabulous Stains.
Despite my rant earlier, I did go see Neon Indian at the Green Label Showcase. I decided to pick at least one buzzy band to see and immediately realized it was a dumb idea. The line outside Club de Ville stretched out into the street even for badge holders. I was among the few that managed to get in, though. I already don't like Club de Ville. The stage is impossible to see when it's crowded, and it's always crowded (hence, I have no decent photos). Neon Indian played through their heavily-blogged, "chillwave"-defining record Psychic Chasms with one or two newer jams thrown in. Not sure what else to say. It sounded like the record, but definitely better. There were a shit ton of folks there. They ate it up, and during the last song I got the hell out of there thinking I could ride this wave and catch Memory Tapes at Klub Krucial. I was wrong. That line was also outrageous and I wasn't about to stick it out.
I wandered aimlessly for half an hour before realizing Demolished Thoughts were playing the Ecstatic Peace showcase at Red 7. I had no idea what Demolished Thoughts was supposed to be, only that it was a collaboration betwixt Thurston Moore, J Mascis, Andrew WK and Don Fleming -- and how the hell could I miss that? I showed up, caught the end of No Age, and pushed my way up to the front. Long story short: What I got was one of the best things I've ever seen in my whole life.
First off, bassist Andrew WK was a no show. Word on the street is he played a house party instead. The band pulled Fucked Up's Jonah Falco from the audience to fill in at the very last minute. Turns out, Demolished Thoughts is a cover band. With Mascis and Fleming on guitars, Awesome Color's Allison Awesome on drums and Moore on vocals, the band specializes in '80s hardcore jams from the likes of SS Decontrol, Minor Threat, Gang Green, The Untouchables, 7 Seconds, Youth Brigade, etc. Again, it was one of the greatest things I've ever seen. The crowd went ape shit, launching immediately into an old school mosh pit sending more than a couple shoes into my face. With the charts on the floor in front of him, despite having literally no time to prepare, Jonah Falco never missed a beat. (Apparently Thurston has done this before in a band called Society's Ills, featuring Dez Cadena, Mike Watt and Dave Markey, which sounds equally badass.) Here's a video from the Red 7 show: