by The Spin
The Spin started off Thursday night with another one of those swanky VIP parties — this time at Virago, a club (with a thumbprint scanner) that we'll likely never see the inside of again, lest we become John Rich. But we missed the food! Again! Anyway, suitably sauced from the fancy-pants VIP festivities, we strolled down 12th Ave., destined for Hypesylvania (aka the 12th Avenue Block Party stage), where Reptar was already midway into their Vampire Weekend-wannabe dance-pop set. Their brand of inoffensive songs in the key of Graceland on uppers didn't do much for us, but that's the beautiful thing about SoundLand — if we don't care, we can move on. And move on we did, catching a bit of Fine Peduncle looping beats and dry-humping a card table in clear defiance of the posted sign behind him, reading “if you are dancing in a way that could create a baby/fetus/alien — stop.” Nice.
Cults, the middle band of the block party lineup, won us over immediately by coming onstage to the theme to Twin Peaks. By far the most impressive non-local of the night, Cults kept up a fun summer-pop vibe, fraught with xylophones, reverb and bummer lyrics (but only if you listened hard enough). Foster the People, meanwhile, entered and exited our ears at an alarming rate. Foster is about as milquetoast as milquetoast can get, offering us a show worthy of filler on 107.5 The River. But, the kids seemed to love 'em. Bless their hearts.
A couple of colleagues at the 12th stage allegedly saw an arrest or two amid the crowd, complete with hollering and at least one guy hitting the pavement. (Hey, debacles of near-SXSW proportions are bound to go down at an outdoor stage.) But meanwhile, over at much calmer and more sparsely attended Basement, The Spin peeped Jasmin Kaset and her band. One of the great things about Kaset is that she makes songs that are beautiful and filled with interesting arrangements without being too precious about it. Even while playing an Omnichord on a handmade platform attached by a rope strung over her shoulders — complete with plastic lion standing guard at its edge — and a cellist/bandurria-player strumming away beside her, Kaset always appears more smart than quirky. So when she sang the stellar “Food,” which opens with “The rabbit falls quiet by a boy's first aeroshot,” then spins into a group sing-along to “Say we'll be together for as long as we remember,” it was more Bridge to Terabithia than Miranda July.
Sleepy Sun followed with a the sort of psych rock we characterized — at least according to our notes — as "Black Angels Jr." It alternated between heavy/droney and wispy/breezy, and the frontman had a bit of an Eddie Vedder thing going on. Not vocally. Just his stage presence. And his hair. Also in our notes: "Are these guys from the Californian desert? They sound like it." Turns out they're from San Fransisco, so we weren't that far off.
As the evening wound down, we took in some old favorites back on 12th Ave., watching How I Became the Bomb intrude on the impromptu dance party that sprouted at Mai as they waited to play (one of our comrades observed that the party went from 0 to “balloons and hula hoop dancing” in under 20 minutes). Mixing new tunes riddled with fat basslines with standbys like “Killing Machine” and “Fat Girls Talkin' 'Bout Cardio,” they won the hearts of the crowd. Meanwhile, across the street, Uncle Skeleton — using every inch of 12th & Porter's stage — absolutely killed it, just as they did at Bonnaroo, Road to Bonnaroo and Next Big Nashville last year. Deciding that “Diskoteq” was as good an exit song as any, we head for the door, hoping we'd be able to find our car in the Gulch.
More Spin from SoundLand's Thursday night action to come.