The GoldRoom, Ascent of Everest, Parlour and Old Baby at The High Watt, 7/22/12

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Ascent of Everest
As The Spin's closest pal recently put it, The High Watt is "like The End, but it doesn’t smell like a latrine.” OK, rad. There’s something to be said for lowered expectations, but with a solid lineup of heady, intellectual post-rockers, The Spin was prepared for nothing less than having our consciousness blown at the Watt on Sunday night. And really, it was, minus the fact that hardly anyone showed up to share in the cerebral shredding. When The Spin first arrived shortly after 8 p.m., the parking lot was packed, and for a moment it appeared as if it was going to get pretty asses-to-elbows rowdy. But dreams were shattered when we realized a large church group was meeting downstairs. Where were you, Nashville techie mega-nerds? Was there a video game released on Sunday night that The Spin was unaware of? Surely you weren’t gettin’ your Jesus on downstairs while we were upstairs drinking beer and getting mind-fucked.

Regardless of attendance, the local staples and Louisville natives brought a pungent stank of profound hallucinatory riffage. Openers Old Baby delivered the best act of the evening by means of indie supergroup freshness thanks to Jonathan Glen Wood on guitar and vocals, Evan Patterson from Young Widows on guitar and backing vocals, Drew Osborn of Your Black Star and Workers on drums, Neal Arghabright on synthesizer and Todd Cook of Shipping News and Slint on bass. Unlike Parlour and Shedding, Old Baby takes on post-rock in a less spacey, more dirty-cowboy way — as proven with the union of their song “Pale as Man” with a projector playing footage of old Westerns and horses. There have been times in which the concept of a projector has failed The Spin (think back about 10 years ago during the height of cheesy post-hardcore bands), but Old Baby pulls it off nicely — minus one projection at the beginning of their set that looked a little like a Windows Media Player background.

Parlour took almost as long to set up as they did to play, though The Spin wasn’t quite as impressed as we were with Old Baby. They were tight musicians, but their new tunes were less impressive than those on previous albums like Octopus Off-Broadway and Googler. This cued The Spin’s move to the wild and wicked smoking porch, where a dude near us pondered how trippy it might be if we didn’t shake hands to greet one another. What if we grabbed each other’s shoulders instead? What if we stroked each other’s hair? What if The Spin had dropped a little something before the show? This conversation would have seemed so much more impressive. Or maybe we would have stayed inside.

The Ascent of Everest carried out nothing less than a stellar performance — this time with Ashley Morris in tow, who added her strings and soft voice to those of Casey Kaufman to complete the eight-piece experimental onslaught. While it might not matter to some, one plus that AOE brings to the table is their ability to add stage presence to epic jams. It seems, more often than not, the deftness it takes to play these highly composed pieces of music sometimes keeps musicians from appearing to enjoy playing. Ascent tore it up during “Too Sweet” and “Take Control” — Morris, Kaufman and Devin Lamp coming together with the band to offer a sugary but heavy symphony.

Solo act Shedding (featuring just Connor Bell, previously of Paden and Parlour), added his slow and haunting tunes to the mix, bringing somewhat of a post-rock lullaby to the end of evening. By the end of Shedding's set and the beginning of The GoldRoom's, four doses of epic cinematic jam content (five if you count the score to The Dark Knight Rises, which The Spin sat through before the show) had already exploded The Spin’s mind. And although GoldRoom's solid, '90s-inspired alt-rock was transfixing, too many whiskey drinks and bread sodas were telling The Spin it was time to get a taco and find a bed.

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