Thanks to a cold-as-balls Scene company Christmas party at Belle Meade Plantation hosted by our gracious overlords, The Spin arrived at Exit/In Thursday night just as youthful indie popsters Bows and Arrows were transporting their host of gear offstage. We promise to make it up to the kids in future ink spillage, but, hey, we've seen 'em a handful of times, and we can tell you the exuberant little scamps put on an earnest and solid show of modern shoegaze. Thus, we command you to visit their MySpace profile post-haste: myspace.com/bowsandarrows.
As Korean Is Asian loaded in with fiddle and steel player in tow, we were happy to see they've reached genuine-country-ensemble proportions. They led off with a rather delicate duet from co-ed frontpersons Jordan Caress and Brian Ritchey that brought the full—but certainly not packed—crowd from bustling to pin-drop quiet at an alarming speed. But thanks to that racist uncle of ours, The Spin is used to abrupt, awkward silences around the holidays.
Sure, Korean Is Asian's down-tempo, epic Americana numbers might not initially seem like an aesthetic match for a bill with the jagged indie rock of Canucks Land of Talk, but Caress' vocals were gloriously smooth, and Ben Martin—a new addition to K.I.A.—is one of our favorite local drummers. So, you know. We managed. They closed with their biggest number dynamically—we think it's called "Please Don't Let Me Go"—featuring a cameo from—you guessed it—the ubiquitous Caitlin Rose.
With a newly added auxiliary member, the now-quartet Land of Talk opened with the jarring, urgent riffage of "Corner Phone," our favorite number from their 2008 release, Some Are Lakes. Frontwoman Elizabeth Powell doted graciously on the local talent for a bit, but that proved to be just about the most she would say all evening. Instead, Powell let her arsenal of axes do the talking while the Nashvillian crowd, per usual, looked on stoically. She effortlessly delivered album-quality vocals as her band kicked out crunchy, bubble-grunge indie numbers with maximum proficiency.
Seriously, even for Nashville, this was one of the deadest audiences we've seen at a rock show in ages. Maybe it was the cold, but as it crept closer to midnight, the eerie silence grew and the audience itself dwindled. Land of Talk played a somewhat reserved one-song encore, which we sat through whilst waiting on the aftertaste of Evan Williams Honey Bourbon to dissolve from our palate. Yeah, yeah: It's Evan Williams (puke)...but it's honey (win)! Very conflicting. And with that, we exited the Rock Block.
When we showed up at The 5 Spot around 9:30 Friday night, the room was emptier than we were expecting—then we remembered that the prototypical East Nashville band, Hands Down Eugene, were playing across town. Firebirds of the Arctic Ice took their sweet time getting set up, and they were one those bands that has one guy with a big amp who turns up his big amp real loud like, "Hey, listen to me, I've got a bigger amp than everyone else in my band," and depending on where you're standing, that dude's guitar is pretty much all you can hear. The band, which features former members of Kill Devil Hills, said they were from Albuquerque, then they said they were from Wisconsin, but they sounded more like they were from 1998. Like if Dave Mustaine got tricked into playing in a Victory Records band with a lot of feelings.
A pretty good-sized crowd had filled up the Spot by the time Private Dancer took to the stage, and a lot of people noticed the bass player set up his amp directly behind the drummer and stood right next to him. "Got to admire a rhythm section that's committed," someone with a beard said to us. Sure enough! We and everyone in our general proximity were hooked immediately. After all the geographic misdirection of the first band, people wanted to know where these dancers for money were from—Minneapolis, it turns out. But they almost sounded like they were from Atlanta, what with the '60s garage-y thing—only they were better and tighter and more focused-sounding than a lot of the '60s garage-y bands that seem to be coming out of everywhere including Atlanta these days. "That's some Entwistle-and-Moon-type shit," the guy in the beard said a few songs in. They were tighter than, uh, something that's really, really tight. And they closed with "Nobody But Me" by the Human Beinz! Nobody can do the boogaloo like those guys. Whatever the boogaloo is.
Soon enough it was time for the stars of the evening, and ol' Jay Leo Phillips got up there and right away apologized in advance in case his voice gave out or blood started coming out of his teeth or whatever. Sure, he sounded a little raspy, but as a rule, we're not a fan of this maneuver. It's like, "Hey everybody, just lower those expectations a little bit while we get tuned up!" Anyway, all was forgiven as soon as ol' Jay Leo Phillips started scraping away at the opening notes of "Walking the Plank." We're not the only ones who've been missing the hell out of Apollo Up!, as evidenced by the many people shaking their bangs and yelling along and not standing stone-still during their set, which was just the shot of awesome we needed. Not the tightest we've ever seen AU, but how long has it been since they played a show? Too long, that's how long.
Let's get Sith-faced!
We initially intended to maintain our standard "over it," Spinny approach on this one—save perhaps a confession that we freed our inner nerd only slightly. But the fact of the matter is we genuinely, actually enjoyed ourselves at Star Wars in Concert at Sommet Center. Because, for all the hundreds of totally legit rock shows we've attended and even scoffed at in our day, we still know that pyro, lasers and space are the common denominators amongst nerds everywhere. As our companion put it, the arena show is the Popsicle to which the super-fan ants are drawn. And just as greasy teenagers in Ace Frehley makeup have always been drawn to the KISS Popsicle, so have the awkward, gangly, sci-fi types always been drawn to anything George Lucas manages to squeeze out. And Sunday evening, as we looked around at the middle-aged Count Dookus, adolescent stormtroopers and tiny Darth Vaders, we realized that we were among our own kind.
Narrated by the consummately professional and eternally mincing Anthony Daniels—sans his golden droid outfit, of course—the show consisted of John Williams' pieces from all six films performed by an on-point symphony orchestra and chorus. The music was accompanied by Star Wars clips divided into thematic chapters and played on what is reportedly the world's largest LED screen. Oh, and there were also intermittent fireballs, pulsing lasers and plumes of colored smoke. We have to say, however, whenever clips from Attack of the Clones or Revenge of the Sith flashed across the big screen, it felt a bit like seeing your favorite legendary arena-rock band playing their newer material.
Nevertheless, aided by a couple of 24-ouncers and the jazz cigarette we roasted before the show, Star Wars in Concert kept us in our seats right through the encore—it was a reprisal of "The Imperial March," by the way. Totally our jam. We also managed to glimpse a bit of the original-series props and paraphernalia displayed throughout the arena. But once we realized we were ruining a family's photo with the Chewbacca costume—we wandered inappropriately close to the display case to inspect Chewy's fur—it became all too apparent that we were letting the Dark Side take hold. "Keep it together," we told ourselves as we exited the arena. "We go to rock shows now. Remember that."
"Christmas hat, Christmas shoes, gonna take a swig of my Christmas booze! / Lookin' great, feelin' fine, call it Richville 'cause this town is mine!" Email email@example.com.
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