Worth a Hamilton
With a touring band on the bill and gas prices on the rise, it seemed that inflation had trickled down to the Rock Block, as we discovered an unanticipated $10 cover at the door last night. This turned our hope for a good show into downright expectation. "This better be good," we thought. Luckily, our value-oriented jitters were put at ease as Kintaro took to the stage and brought us back to a time when something could be described as pop punk and that was not a bad thing.
Bands like Jawbreaker, Descendents and Superchunk would all be able to gaze upon Kintaro with pride and find some absolution in that maybe the Blink 182s and Sum 41s were not their fault. Led by Wes Traylor from MEEMAW, Kintaro are not a huge stylistic departure from that band, but they certainly deserve just as much praise for their brilliantly simple hooks and rebellious vitality—their second song, "I Don't Give a Fuck," being a perfect example. It may be easy for some followers of our local rock scene to bash these guys and their contemporaries for their mass exposure and incestuous consecration of projects, but the band really should be applauded for energizing a homespun punk scene that doesn't feel tired or contrived.
Following suit, Turbo Fruits—officially no longer a Be Your Own Pet side-project—have all the musical attributes of a great mod band, but without the silly suits and scooters. Who needs those bells and whistles when you've got Jonas Stein's frenetic guitar lines cutting through the P.A. in jagged shards and John Eatherly on lead drums? Eatherly, on this particular night, was beating the skins so hard that his kit was in shambles by the end of each song.
Two bands in, and we had already gotten our money's worth. But this night was far from over as Detroit's Dirtbombs hit the stage with the holy-fuck set of the show, during which they didn't once come up for air—playing song after song with rapid-fire delivery. They charged through an amalgam of styles channeling all things Detroit, from the MC5 to Motown to Mitch Ryder and back again. All done with heroic energy.
The Dirtbombs take fun seriously and they knew how to bring on an intoxicating barrage of rock 'n' roll volume—aided by the use of two drummers—featuring a ragtag multiracial, multigenerational lineup that prove the gods of rock to be some strange casting directors. An absolute blast to watch, and a goddamn joy to hear, The Dirtbombs thoroughly owned us. Despite everything we've said or could say about them, we still don't quite know what to say: another great show in Music City—under-attended.
We'll be honest with you: There were times this weekend when we felt like Nero—rockin' a B-boy stance as Rome burned. Between Gas-pocalypse, Finance-ageddon and a so-so presidential debate, our "party for the right to fight" spirit had been kinda drained.
But the turbulent socio-political climate could have been why the 5 Points Invasion art show at Gallery East was such a laid-back spot to be on Saturday night. Sure, we'd hoped for more off-the-chain revelry due to the presence of Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the legendary DJ/producer from A Tribe Called Quest, but the group head-nod therapy was just what the doctor ordered.
The night started off with an exhibition of the ill, spray-and-stencil graffiti prints by WorkForce Rebellion. We were about to buy the Jam Master Jay portrait when we saw the awesome "Gas Is the New Gold" series and realized that, damn it, we were super-broke and drunken art purchases might not be the best plan of action.
Luckily, Kidsmeal, Wick-It and the Lovenoise SoundSystem had the bailout for The Greatest Depression that's hanging around our bank statements. The two sets of DJs volleyed the crowd back and forth from inside the gallery to the outdoor patio for most of the night. Which wasn't a surprise given the heavy riddims being lobbed from both sides. The Lovenoise crew kept it hot outside with a set heavy on true-school classics and backpack hits, while the Kids-Wick-Meal-It team took the "hip-hop as fine art" concept to heart, veering between now-sound future tones and retro boogaloo-breaks.
Honestly, a pretty rad choice in sounds if you ask us—maybe even too rad for the sparse crowd at the beginning of the night. Mr. Muhammad brought as much heat as we had hoped for, uniting the migrating crowd for a set full of Tribe tunes, '90s New York hardcore classics and neo-soul hits. It was a smooth close-out to a tumultuous week that left us with a smile and the feeling that Nashville's underground hip-hop scene may be taking its very first steps toward a Golden Age all its own.
Bummer. We didn't cover Trey Anastasio at the Ryman. But you were probably too hella faded to notice. Send your dealer's digits to firstname.lastname@example.org.