Bringin' Next-y back
Call it opening night jitters, but we still couldn't get over this whole starting-shows-at-8 p.m. business, so we wound up at The Rutledge late Thursday night. We did catch And the Relatives, featuring Scene staffer D. Patrick Rodgers on drums. (We could hardly hear his snare drum, in particular, but that's another story.) ATR wove through their rubbery-bass take on indie rock before giving way to All We Seabees, whose set felt awfully short—their music has a more incremental effect, and there just wasn't time for all the increments. Eureka Gold got the considerable crowd off the patio and moving with their fully commissioned shambledelia.
Meanwhile, things at The End started off with a pop. An Anglo-'96-North-Carolina pop, that is, with The Ocelots leading off to a far from sold-out crowd consisting mostly of bands to play later that night. They rocked it hard with songs from their new record (which we haven't had the pleasure of hearing yet) and old semi-classics. Following them were Kindergarten Circus. The guys can't buy cigarettes and they still blow minds. Like Who and Zeppelin minds. Following up were Velcro Stars, who were gonna get some strange that night. Across the street, Skyblazer represented the classic metal community with their Grace-Slick-meets-Blue-Cheer jamz. Back at The End, Glossary shared their booze-soaked songs of love and life for us. The evening was capped off by an über-theatrical performance by The Protomen at Exit/In, during which they showed one punk rock kid how to love.
We started our Friday evening on the East Side, joining the steady trickle of fans at The 5 Spot for Tristen's set of endearing pop-folk tunes delivered with vivacious vocals and a backing band whose delivery was tight but unadorned. Said band included a cellist who certainly seemed skilled, though she was virtually inaudible. Perhaps the most difficult Nashville band to see regularly is Ole Mossy Face, so we were pleased to catch their charming set of Southern-fried rock gems but disappointed that the place wasn't more full. With nary a shuttle rolling past The 5 Spot all evening, our chances of being stranded east of the river increased with every passing PBR, so off we went.
On our way to Elliston Place we dropped by 12th & Porter. Butterfly Boucher charmed us, but her backing band felt old and plodding. A bit disappointed, we shot over to Exit/In and caught MEEMAW in the midst of a cheese-sandwich riot. They kind of rushed "Blue in the Blacklight" (the feel-good hit of the summer), but we could forgive them because the energy was so good. When JEFF hit the stage, we thought to ourselves, "Are we really at yet another JEFF show?" The answer: no. The Brotherhood From Another Planet took us places we've never been as they somehow punched a hole through to the next dimension. (Fake smoke came pouring out the hole, by the way.)
Kelly Clarkson was in the house for Cortney Tidwell's set, but long gone by the time Superdrag took the Cannery stage ahead of their listed 12:15 start time. We were quite surprised to see the ballroom less than half-full for the one band of the festival who can call themselves elder statesmen. While the turnout might have been a bit underwhelming, it certainly didn't hamper the energy of the 300 loyalists packed against the stage. The set picked up the most steam as the band broke into an epic run of Regretfully Yours tracks, including a "Sucked Out" sing-along that stretched our vocal cords well beyond capacity, bringing us right back to 1996. As they left the stage the frenzied crowd chanted for an encore, but the Drag was not to return. We left reminding ourselves that we we were no longer 15 and didn't need to wait for our parents to pick us up outside.
So, uh, yeah we definitely barfed all over the stairs at City Hall after DJ Egon's afterparty set. And we barfed on the shuttle bus—or, more accurately, we puked on ourselves while on the shuttle bus. And we lost our credit card—twice—and broke our sunglasses again in the process. And we learned that you can't survive NBN if your dinner only consists of whiskey drinks and Infinity Cat's promo-cheese sandwiches. But up until that moment when the up-chuck went airborne, we were having the time of our lives. The Funky Good Time DJs proved once again why they are Nashville's preeminent party people, bringing hit after funky hit of bad-ass boogie downbeats. The Dynamites spent this summer out on the road, and gawddamn could you tell—those cats cut to the center of our soul with surgical precision and shook our rumps somethin' fierce. Egon deserves special thanks for letting us hear the future-funk that cratediggers across the universe will be hunting down in the 23rd century—we took notes and our great-great-grandkids are gonna clean house on eBay. Also, we'd like to thank our shuttle driver, Carol, for taking the time and effort to make sure we got home safely—we really appreciate that. We were really fucking drunk.
While the crowd at The Basement threatened to be sparse right up until Shoot the Mountain's set Saturday, the place was at near capacity by the time they finished their first song. Shoot the Mountain is a band that takes its cues from the formative years of indie rock, weaving codependent guitar parts that echo the likes of early Modest Mouse with a dose of familiar twang. Their set, full of seven-minute, shape-shifting epics, was a difficult one to follow, but the kick-in-the-pants alt-country outfit Danger Bear kept the energy high, testing the limits of The Basement's P.A. as well as their banjo, guitar and mandolin strings with a handful of lively tunes. It was a pleasant change of pace to see Caitlin Rose backed by a full band, and while her voice was characteristically remarkable and her steel player blew our minds, something told us another practice or two might have upgraded their performance from good to spectacular. Regardless, Saturday night's M.V.P. award goes to Tyler Coppage, who, after playing full sets with Shoot the Mountain and Rose, high-tailed it across town to drum with We Were the States.
The End was home to Austin-based Chicken Ranch Records' showcase (co-sponsored by this publication), but The Armed Forces are not affiliated. They were included thanks to the readers at NashvilleCream.com, who voted for them in an online poll, and while their energetic stage presence felt convincing, their sugary, pseudo-dangerous pop-punk didn't. The juxtaposition between The Armed Forces' ode to youth and Willie Heath Neal's greased-up outlaw country couldn't have been more stark. It felt more like a show at Robert's Western World on a Tuesday than The End on a Saturday, but the crowd eventually warmed up to the band. The set of the night was delivered by Atlanta's Tiger! Tiger!, with frontwoman Buffi Aguero wrapping the audience around her finger, commanding attention as the band perfectly blended garage rock abandon and '50s R&B polish. The Carter Administration delivered exactly the kind of set you'd expect from them, cruising on autopilot through one of the city's strongest catalogs (though drummer Todd Kemp seemed to channel his inner Keith Moon, playing wild fills at every chance). We Were the States easily came away with the most-improved-band award. In the past, they've occasionally resorted to simply aping their influences, but they've finally come into their own. Closing the night were The Clutters, who, like Ole Mossy Face the night before, had Jared Reynolds, on loan from Ben Folds' band, playing bass. By the night's close the crowd had swelled from modest numbers to a fairly packed house of patrons who might have been too drunk to fully appreciate how much The Clutters were killing it.
Evil Bebos kicked off Lake Fever/Nashville Scene night at the Exit/In because they too were voted in last-minute by Nashville Cream readers. The Bebos got dressed up in what appeared to be indie kid irony, but karma ended up biting them in the ass—the kick drum broke during their last song. Coral Castles were much of what was to be expected for the night—keyboards and disco beats. The Privates ruled, as usual, The Howlies were compelling, if a bit slick compared to their recorded selves, and Ghostfinger—red Jacko zipper-vest and all—rocked the house despite appearing sans drummer. How I Became the Bomb sported the evening's freshest and most well-tailored duds, and their set was, as always, a party.
But there was plenty more party to be had; we hopped the shuttle to Cannery Row, where The Features were just starting their set and already blazing away. Festival fatigue was starting to set in, but zombies, live screenprinting, Jensen Sportag, Spellplay and just about everyone in town piling into The Cannery and Mercy Lounge made for one hell of an end to the Nextest, Biggest Nashville weekend we've had in a long while.
The Spin will be catching up on sleep this week (we hope), but by all means, send the skyline pictures you took from the ICON party deck to firstname.lastname@example.org.