The Spin's still drunk from Wednesday night's Dropkick Murphys show at Marathon Music Works. Drunk on joy, happiness ... and Yuengling tallboys. The last time we saw the Dropkicks in a club setting, we got kicked out for barfing on their monitors, and then we were snuck back in by drummer Matt Kelly — still the "new guy" at the time — because he thought it was funny, and he felt bad that we were standing shirtless outside in mid-winter Massachusetts.
Last Wednesday, The Spin caught just a few songs from Frank Turner because, well, basically we haven't been to Marathon enough yet to know where all the tasty free parking is. Don't worry, Frank Turner fans: We felt Grandma O'Spin bitch-slap us from beyond the grave for missing what was obviously a rowdy, boisterous set of punk folk.
The Dropkicks hadn't even started their set before for the punk-rock shenanigans were kicked into high gear, and a dude was climbing the rafters and getting a stage dive in, much to the chagrin of the security guards. But who can blame him? It was the Murphys' first Nashville performance in their 16-year career — even The Spin uncrossed our arms and put away our cell phone in anticipation! And the second the band took the stage — from the kids in the pit up front to the folks in the back — fists were pumped and voices raised in a remarkable show of unity that doesn't happen too often 'round these parts.
And holy shit did the band give their all in response, plowing through recent-vintage hits like "Going out in Style," "Hang 'Em High" and "State of Massachusetts" — at least that's what we think it says. Our notes are covered in beer, 'cuz who the fuck takes notes at a punk-rock show? We're not going to lie: When they busted into "Sunday Hardcore Matinee" we got a little misty-eyed — it's our entire wayward youth summed up in three minutes.
And just as we began shouting, "Hey, play some songs from singles that nobody else here owns," lead singer Al Barr said something along the lines of, "We've never been here before, so we're gonna change up the set list and bring out some oldies." "Barroom Hero," "Boys on the Docks" and "Road of the Righteous"! It was almost like they let The Spin put together the set list. They capped it off with an encore featuring the classic Kingston Trio perversion "Skinhead on the MBTA," a riotous cover of AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds" and "Kiss Me I'm Shitfaced," complete with a stage full of ladies pulled from the crowd.
Well, in case you were wondering, Jack White is gonna play the hits when he takes to the road to promote his solo debut, Blunderbuss. So The Spin learned Thursday night at White's Third Man Records, where a private party celebrating the label/record store/rock club's third anniversary included two full-length, unisexy performances with two backing bands — one all-male and one all-female, as we saw on White's SNL appearance — for a crowd of a couple hundred.
Both sets brimmed with cherry-picked chestnuts from White's back catalog, with White Stripes, Raconteurs and Dead Weather staples like "Seven Nation Army," "Steady, as She Goes" and "I Cut Like Buffalo" outnumbering new cuts two-to-one. And each sounded fresh — White didn't play the crowd-pleasers like a begrudging human jukebox, but instead like he was rediscovering them. Blunderbuss jams — a seeming even distribution of soulful, rootsy, writerly tracks and supercharged, riff-rife rockers — held their own alongside the hits, showing that White has just as much confidence in his new material as he is ready to embrace his rock-star legacy status.
Not really knowing what to expect, we rolled up to Third Man and found ourselves immediately forced to forfeit our cell phones. But at night's end, we were rewarded with a TMR tote bag containing a single souvenir LP featuring the label's first three years' worth of singles from its Blue Series. How is that possible? The plate plays at 3 rpm. Suffice it to say, the 28-artist, 56-track, long-assed long player is sure to be worth a shit load on eBay. And no, we're not selling our copies, so don't even ask. Much to our obvious delight, the pre-performance, backstage bash boasted an open bar tended by Patterson House and eats catered by Merchants. Classy.
A brief, plodding set from ominously off-putting, down-tuned minimalist sludge-rock trio Hell Beach felt like waiting out an awkward date and warmed the crowd up for White.
Decked out in a powder-blue suit and with his all-female backing band in tow, White kicked off Set One with a true-to-form "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," followed by a trio of Blunderbuss cuts including the recent single "Love Interruption" and the other SNL selection, "Sixteen Saltines" — the latter of which White played with the male band on the aformentioned telecast. We were told that White is taking both bands out on the road and each has learned the same repertoire, meaning there are two musical interpretations of each song.
Thursday night, the ladies played the tighter, more concentrated set, but they rocked much harder than during the somewhat staid SNL performance. Highlights included an upright bass-, pedal steel- and fiddle-augmented arrangement of "Hotel Yorba" that elevated the song to hoe-down status, and "We're Going To Be Friends" to close the set.
Following a brief intermission, White — now wearing all black — returned to the stage to lead the sausage-party lineup through a hard-driving set of rocking, free-wheeling takes on favorites like "My Doorbell," "Ball and Biscuit" and "Seven Nation Army."
The difference between the two bands was night and day, and which one was better was really a matter of preference. Whereas the girls took on the songs in a fluid and focused manner, the guys attacked them with unpredictable ferocity. Especially when it came to drummer Daru Jones, a total badass who drove the band all over the dynamic map with out-of-left-field fills and feels. It was obvious that White took to some of Jones' choices like kicks to the teeth, while others put a fire under his ass that saw him lunging across the stage, working to match the intensity. And he looked more engaged and like he was having more fun onstage than he has during any performance we've seen him participate in over the past few years. The euphoric grin on his face as he closed out the night to the sound of the crowd singing Leadbelly's "Goodnight Irene" suggested he was as blown away by his own rebirth as the rest of us were.