Auld lang syne of the times
While we were sure to dispatch a photographer to cover the rapturous, ecstatic events of Bassnectar's sold-out show at Bridgestone Arena, The Spin didn't feel the need to attend in the flesh. Rather, we split our New Year's Eve between My So-Called Band's show at Mercy Lounge, a punk blowout at The Zombie Shop and Electric Western's Roaring 2012 Swingin' 1920s party at The 5 Spot. We had our work cut out for us, but with a notepad in one pocket and a flask in the other, we intended to set ablaze the ragged remains of 2011 and rise from the ashes in 2012 like some glorious, drunken phoenix. Let's see how we fared, shall we?
In direct contrast to the Lynyrd Skynyrd-based shenanigans that took Lower Broad by storm, Mercy Lounge looked like a high school prom had thrown up — assuming your high school prom had a New Year's Eve theme and a mandatory jaunty-hat dress code. The parachute pants and overalls usually characteristic of a My So-Called Band crowd were mostly replaced with business casual attire and shiny cocktail dresses, which must have left the two dudes in tracksuits feeling a tad foolish.
This was a crowd primed to party, long before the band even thought about taking the stage. All hopped up on Red Bull-based cocktails and the misguided notion that Ace of Base is a good band, the bros and bro-ettes were singing along to Seal and shrieking with delight at the appearance of distinctly '90s commercials for Crystal Pepsi and Beverly Hills 90210. One got the distinct feeling that if the band never showed, the crowd would hardly notice, as long as there were jock jams to sing along to.
The band appeared on stage around 10:30 p.m. with a chant of "Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!" as By Lightning!/Mayhem drummer Jerry Pentecost flew into a cover of Tag Team's sole hit "Whoomp! (There It Is)," immediately followed by a rendition of "Free Your Mind" featuring Larissa Maestro, Tristen and Jordan Caress' ridiculously acrobatic voices — voices that would likely put En Vogue themselves to shame. As jaded and cynical as we fancy ourselves, we can't help but be impressed by the talent involved in this band. Even if they are using it for the evil of reminding us that "Mr. Jones" is a song.
But that can be problematic. In the end, My So-Called Band shows mostly just make us wish that the local bands that comprise this nostalgia-fueled Megazord would get even an ounce of the love they receive when they're belting out inconsequential pop songs from 20 years ago. We just want to see a few hundred people get irresponsibly drunk at a Ponychase show, is all. Is that so much to ask? In any case, we made our exit from Mercy early in the evening as "Everlong" rang in our ears — our dance card was too full to spend all night bummed about how that guy in the tiny gold top hat will probably never know how great The Privates were.
The Spin doesn't often like to toot its own horn, but we showed up to local motorbike co-op The Zombie Shop's NYE bash looking dapper as HELL, only to find we were perhaps a bit overdressed for the occasion. Our swanky duds stuck out like a sore thumb among the jeans-and-hoodie crowd, and Useless Eaters were already well into their set. Undeniably talented and in-demand it boy Seth Sutton and his crew of ex-Memphians do rock it just jagged and technically savvy enough to be "post," but so fierce and simple, you're not bound to get rebuked for just calling it "punk."
From its nondescript exterior to its cavernous innards — a handful of folks gathered about the band in the corner — this makeshift venue screamed of nostalgia for our own hometown punk scene, where just about any spot with a roof and electricity became a concert hall at some point. Granted, within the hour, this thing transformed into a full-on warehouse party real quick. Especially considering we spent almost the entirety of Cy Barkley and the Way Outsiders' set in line for the complimentary keg.
Since they just had a track featured on one of MTV's quality reality programs, we had to wonder whether Diarrhea Planet is any longer too cool for school. The answer is obviously "no," and this late-night crowd agreed. Frankly, we were too busy seeking out a New Year's kiss, swapping business cards between passing the dutchie and again braving the seemingly endless line for the keg to catch much of their set, but how could we not have run front and center when we overheard the opening riffs to the anthemic "Ghost With a Boner"?
The stroke of midnight came and went. The corks of cheap Champagne sailed overhead, as did the faint reflections of a fireworks display if you happened to be standing out back.
We didn't recognize, nor could we catch the name of the next band — we later found out it was Slick. They roped us in with a fairly badass rendition of The Damned's "Neat Neat Neat," but lost us shortly after. We'll try harder next time, Slick. Not one of those nights that sticks in your memory too well. By the time headliners Natural Child came on, there wasn't much of anything that wasn't in full force. Natty C likes to make pretty obvious their predilection for wacky tobacky, their penchant for partying, the woes of the working class and the white man's lack of soul. So nothing new to report there. By 1 a.m., the music had subsided, the keg had run dry, and the crowd had thinned, as many lingered to drink and ensure that 2012's first day would be one of reckoning, or at least sofa-ridden recovery.
All the while over at Electric Western's Roaring 2012 party, people were taking the theme seriously. Like, really seriously. Hey, we're Boardwalk Empire fans. We can savvy with dandy suits and flapper dresses, so long as there's some subtlety — there's a fine line between looking like Nucky Thompson and looking like you pulled the "1920s gangster No. 4" costume out of a display window. The Spin, however, was clad in our usual duds, so we actually ended up sticking out a bit — and we're not accustomed to being the squares here. No matter, as by the time soul covers outfit Chubby and the Dots launched into their first, Chubbyless set, the joint was already reaching capacity and full of rug-cutting good-timers.
C and the Ds split their tunes into separate sets, the first one consisting of immaculate, instrumental big-band numbers — an hour-long stretch of jazzy, swinging standards. By intermission, bow ties were loosened, broken cigarettes dangled from the ends of cigarette holders, and pomade-slathered heads filled the bar from wall to wall. During the second set — the band's lineup now including Chubby himself (Eric Lehning of The Non-Commissioned Officers) on vocals — The Dots handily breezed through on-point renditions of "I Ain't Got Nobody" and the like. At one point, The Spin hobbled over to the 5 Points BP to purchase a $4 cigar — which tasted exactly like a $4 cigar (i.e., like yard clippings rolled in a banana peel) — but made it back in time for a delightfully robust rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" at the stroke of midnight. Horns and all.
With little room to enjoy ourselves, let alone dance, we headed over to Red Door for a drink before determining that it was a good idea to walk from 5 Points all the way to Foobar. Hey, cabs were obviously booked up and out of the question, The Spin sure as shit doesn't drive drunk, and we were on a mission to see a woman about a kiss. So walk it we did! And we made it! And what did we have to show for it on the first morning of 2012? Murky memories of a technically-kinda-supposed-to-be-private-but-not-really-private party in Foobar 2, and our friends getting banned-but-hopefully-not-really-banned from the establishment. Oh well. You know what? It was worth it. Mission accomplished. We buried 2011, and now we're ready to bury our foot in 2012's ass.
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