Spring Hill Spider Party at Mercy Lounge 2/26/09

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"No one likes to be touched in that way. But in Nashville, that's what we do."

So proclaimed Derek Brown of Spring Hill Spider Party, exhorting members of the crowd to fondle each other. But let's back up for a moment. When we arrived at Mercy Lounge, we found a loose agglomeration of people that by no means filled the room. But when the band took the stage, we found that this turnout represented the devoted core of SHSP fanatics. Dry ice billowing around us, everyone crowded towards the stage.

The four-piece band opened their set with a cover of the Who's the Boss? theme song. Nostalgia was a recurring theme of the night; Brown, wearing a naval cap and "THAT WAS EASY" T-shirt, asked the crowd if they remembered the video game "Duck Hunt," before adding that "it sounds like a hip-hop vagina if you say it fast."

They followed things up with two of their better-known numbers, "Spider Party" and "This Club is Full of Boys." Their sound was so bass-heavy that it made the floor vibrate, and the audience needed no prompting to dance. Some of their material was a bit less familiar to us; Brown proclaimed that "there are a lot of ladies on the dance floor tonight. But wouldn't it be awesome if it was all dudes?" before launching into "No Ladies on the Dance Floor." Among many noteworthy locals in attendance, Basement proprietor Mike Grimes and his fiancée Mindy Coleman were enjoying a romantic night out; Brown invited them onstage for a slow jam, shots and hugs.

They followed this up with "Asscalator of Fudge" and "Youth Group." Brown shared some gossip about opening band Red White Blue, claiming they had written a song called "My Ass Is on Fire," and added that "a lot of our fans have fucked all four members of Kings of Leon." The band members removed their shirts for what seemed to be the final song, "Women Be Shoppin' " (the "sandwich" song); instead, they traded songs for nudity, playing more jams as more audience members stripped down. (Grimes and Mindy complied.) Soon, they were playing "Skeletor" and a cover of Montell Jordan's "This is How We Do It" for a largely shirtless crowd.

This audience hardly needed to be won over; they even tolerated Brown's woefully mangling the lyrics of R. Kelly's "Ignition." Still, by the end of the night, the Spider Party had surpassed expectations, defying Nashville conventional wisdom that (in Brown's words) "if you didn't sound like Ernest Tubb, you're not gonna make it."

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