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Lil Wayne, Justin Townes Earle, Explorers Club and more

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Wayne dang doodle
The new Lil Wayne album Tha Carter III has the makings of a great stage show: live instruments, intergalactic themes, slick rhymes and plenty of sex.

So it was with great anticipation—and a pack of Trojans—that The Spin headed out to see young Weezy at the Vanderbilt Auditorium last Thursday night. Boy, were we disappointed. In the music. The sexy part turned out great.

Wayne was backed by a three-piece band but didn't utilize their talents, so his performance amounted to little more than a karaoke version of Tha Carter III. Adding to the uninspired performance was the colossally terrible sound. The Vanderbilt Auditorium is basically a shell of echo-enhancing poured concrete. The resulting sound was a very loud, very unintelligible cacophony—occasionally interrupted by pleas from Wayne to "Go get Tha Carter III, y'all!"

No one else seemed to mind, though. The concert was a kickoff performance for Vandy's homecoming bacchanalia, and the thousands of undergrads in attendance—mostly female, mostly white, mostly JV—were nearly apoplectic with glee at the mere sight of Weezy dancing across the stage, making the place sound more like a Backstreet Boys concert circa 1997 than a rap show. Even stranger, many of these gals were wearing very-mini-mini-skirts, heavy makeup and fuck-me pumps. Not exactly hip-hop couture.

But the oddest moment of the night came when Weezy performed "Mrs. Officer," a croony make-out jam about being pulled over by the law and then having sex with her. The song's coda—which Wayne encouraged everyone to sing along with—goes, "And I beat it like a cop, Rodney King, baby, yeah, I beat it like a cop." To hear an auditorium full of white Ivy-League-of-the-South kids scream that at the top of their lungs was like being in a deleted scene from Birth of a Nation.

But the song did get a woman who was sitting behind us to peel off her tube-top—and this was before Weezy even played "Lollipop."

Tha Earle II
Minutes after Justin Townes Earle left the stage of the Bloodshot Records CMJ Fiesta at Union Hall in New York last Saturday, he lit up an American Spirit on an outdoor bench and answered the question that's been dogging him since his ragtime combo The Swindlers breezed onto the Nashville indie radar: Will douchenozzle music critics ever tire of asking about his famous dad, Steve?

"Well, obviously, I'm really proud of my family, so I hope people never stop asking about my father. But that stuff doesn't bother me. I mean, I'm not spoiled like most of these sons and daughters who talk shit about their parents on the road. That's your flesh and blood," Earle told The Spin.

"You never heard June Carter say, 'I hate Maybelle Carter,' " he added.

Justin Townes Earle has all the right elements to finally dislodge himself from his father's shadow, as his consistent CMJ Music Marathon set proved. With his dark sensuality and aw-shucks huckster banter, Earle captivated an audience that included Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo and Walter Salas-Humara of The Silos.

Backed by mandolinist Cory Younts, Earle plowed through the bulk of his Bloodshot debut The Good Life with unflinching charm. Leading with the record's uptempo shamble "Hard Livin'," the extended show was Earle's love letter to American roots music.

Earle occasionally shuffled across the stage, hunched over with his shit-eating grin. On "Train Ride to Memphis," Younts' harmonica was syncopated brilliantly over Earle's plucked acoustic.

With a new Bloodshot release slated for 2009, maybe Earle can put those daddy comparisons to rest. "When you get the new record, the first song, you'll put it in and it will tell you very blatantly that this is not the last record," Earle said. "It's not as honky-tonk intensive. It's more ragtime and piano-driven. Basically, I do my best impression of a Randy Newman record."

Hip-swingin' sunshine
It was a smart move for The Basement to stick to its traditional three-tiered lineup last Friday. Jump-starting the evening with a jaw-dropping performance by The Deep Vibration would have been overkill, even for a wall-to-wall audience more than ready to welcome Nashville's latest country-rock playboys to the stage for their first-ever CD release party.

Openers Vermicious K'nids were hardly skittish amateurs as they delivered up a hefty dose of youthful school rock, but little can compare to the explosive presence of Deep Vibration's leading man Matt Campbell. Swaggering around the mic in his rose-leather boots, muttering poetry between his teeth and proving himself worthy of all the song-man local hype generated by their debut EP Veracruz, Campbell led a commanding show full of grit and bleeding-heart balladry. Rounded out by Luke Herbert's punchy chops, Jeremy Fetzer's contemplative lead guitar—recalling as much Nels Cline for his twangy thrashes as classic, American-heartland rock—and Adam Binder's imposing bass thuds, The Deep Vibration are well on their way to establishing themselves as pack leaders of Nashville's underground talent. Not without their flaws, of course, this foursome has an aching potential awaiting their full-length release.

As Charleston, S.C., headliners The Explorers Club took the stage, the crowd had somewhat thinned, leaving those faithful few to enjoy what was undoubtedly the night's peak. Channeling as much Beach Boys' sunshine pop for their glossy five-part vocal harmony—with Jim Faust a split image of a young Dennis Wilson—as the bygone rockabilly of Elvis Presley or Chuck Berry, the septet turned the brick-and-mortar dank of The Basement into a veritable blueberry field.

No. 9
It sounds like a student protest or a TV cop-show pilot—The Nashville 9—but it's a more frantic undertaking than either. Every day for nine days, starting Nov. 1, the team of writer-director Chad Morgan, songwriter Luke Sheets, actor Nat McIntyre and "utility man" Brandon McDonald will produce a song and a short film every 24 hours. To get their material, the crew will gather personal stories from nine Nashvillians every morning at random locations, then spend the day writing, filming and recording—only to start the cycle all over again at dawn. The hope, they say, is to emerge with a nine-song album and a nine-scene film, which will premiere next March at The Belcourt in a benefit for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee. If you're interested in lending a hand, show up for the official kickoff party 7 p.m. Oct. 30 at 12 South Taproom, 2318 12th Ave. S., or check out nashville9.com.

Don't like our coverage? At least we don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunts. Email thespin@nashvillescene.com.

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