Record Store Day — give it a few years and we might just have a raging citywide bender to rival Mardi Gras. All they have to do is put a record fair in our hypothetically shiny convention center, which, if the plans we saw are correct, will actually be so big that it abuts Grimey's, The Groove and The Great Escape. But enough of this future-talk!
Over at The Groove, we snagged a couple of tasty dogs at I Dream of Weenie during Illnana's set, and despite our attention being mostly monopolized by our scrumptious wieners and the selection of cheap records, we certainly appreciated what we heard of Illnana's vivacious, ESG-informed post-punk.
Chris Crofton, Scene favorite and captain of the shenanigan battleship that is The Chris Crofton Show, emceed. Though we get a kick out of his occasionally awkward onstage moments, one audience member wasn't quite so entertained — she dubbed Crofton the "R" word ("racist," not "Republican") after he asked if any black people like Wilco. We thought it was a decent question — how many people of any race still like Wilco? — but Crofton appeared remorseful, later giving away free Wilco bandanas to, as he put it, people of any "race, creed or color" who actually wanted them.
The trad-country elephant in the parking lot all day, however, was of course Emmylou Harris, who was there to promote her pet project (pun intended) Bonaparte's Retreat, an organization that encourages foster care and adoption for shelter dogs. Good cause. After an old-timey performance from Civil War-core bluegrass outfit Danger and the Steel Cut Oats, everyone's favorite Gram Parsons-affiliated songstress took the stage solo to a crowd that instantly swelled to about twice its previous size. While her initial plan was allegedly just to play one new song, she opted to treat us all with a "sound-check song" that turned out to be the astrologically informed "Jupiter Rising." Harris' voice was absolutely breathtaking, and from there she talked for a hot minute about Bonaparte's Retreat. Then she played a new original that we're guessing, given the chorus, is called "Big Black Dog." It seemed to be either about health care reform or a response to Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog." Just kidding. It was about her dog.
On the other side of the river, Grimey's and The Basement were in full swing — and by "in full swing" we mean "drunk," especially that lady we pawned off on Luke from Character. The general opinion was that The Coolin' System and Daniel Pujol ruled the day, and American Bang wooed the exact bunch of cranky old hipster types who wouldn't have given them the time of day five years ago with a righteous set of stadium-ready rock.
The other thing everybody at Grimey's seemed to agree on was that the place to be on Saturday night was the Hillwood Strike and Spare — yeah, the one next to Big Lots — for the Sebastian Speaks First Annual Five-Year Anniversary party. While the regulars may or may not have noticed the outer fringes of Nashville's indie scene cranking it out in the bowling alley bar over the piped-in classic rock and clatter of bowling balls bouncing down lanes, we definitely enjoyed the black-lit fluorescent bowling decor against the flowing soundscapes of Forrest Bride and Hands Off Cuba. Also, the look on the bartender's face when the Pull the String Players were performing their "Hilarity and Despair" routine was worth the trip to the hinterlands, after which we woke up confounded and nude in our bed around 2:30 a.m.
Monday night, The Spin grabbed a schedule of bands to help jog our memory about the third edition of the Road to Bonnaroo series at Mercy Lounge. Serendipitously, we happened to grab one that had a little heart drawn around Caitlin Rose's name. Rose would eventually win, and we are very pleased with this turn of events — the credibility of the 2010 lineup just went through the roof. Caitlin Rose, Conan O'Brien and Daryl Hall with Chromeo are pretty much the only artists we care about seeing (all apologies to Needtobreathe).
Rose definitely earned it. The night featured probably the heaviest competition of any Road to Bonnaroo yet. Know what else? It was also the best-looking lineup we've seen since Black Eyed Peas! The night's first band, The Nobility, have been knocking about Nashville for years, but we didn't realize they were sporting basically a new lineup since we'd last seen them. They're good-looking in a bookish sort of way, though prone to wearing taped-up nerd glasses. They've always been a solid pop-rock band, but it seems the first bands to play end up getting shafted; no one's drunk enough to dance or care.
The Deadstring Brothers certainly had a lot of hair, and were good-looking in the "would clean up to charm your mother" sort of way. They were also the first band of the night to kick off the genuine rock 'n' roll throwback theme of the night, which led one pleased companion to observe "there are no fucking laptops onstage."
Super winner Caitlin Rose was next, and her band is good-looking in the "take you to the river to get you wasted" sort of way. Oh yes, she played with a full band. Does having additional musicians onstage complement her songs, turning them from lonesome ballads into full-blown emotional events (for those of us in bad moods)? Yes. But do we think that Rose wanted to help some friends score Bonnaroo artist passes? Maybe.
The Effects — good-looking in the "let's all do shots and discuss harmonicas" sort of way. Fucking harmonicas! The Effects had harmonicas and The Spin loves harmonicas. Where the Deadstring Brothers were more laid-back in their rockin', we would describe The Effects as kind of "cock rock," though they apparently take issue with that. To us, cock rock means dudes singing songs with fairly aggressive vocals in the style of Robert Plant, not necessarily that their songs are gross and dumb and misogynistic. That said, they should totally try to write a gross and dumb song. It would be a hit, guaranteed.
After a glitter-infused introduction from their manager Tex Rambunctious, The Dozen Dimes (good-looking in the "sweet-talk you into buying them gifts" sort of way) decided to start a party and proceeded to turn the crowd into a bunch of dancing girls kicking around balloons. Their extremely tight pop and doo-wop songs have pretty much set themselves up as The Spin's de facto hits of the summer.
And AutoVaughn, well, they're good-looking in the "good-looking" sort of way, and have the best press photo in town, hands down. Sometimes we get confused about why some bands manage to break out and earn dollars while others don't. AutoVaughn is an extremely good example of catchy alternative rock, and the only reason we can think of why they're not forming crippling, expensive drug addictions and forgetting the little people is because on top of that, they're really fucking nice guys.
And lo, the night was winding down. Mikky Ekko, who is good-looking in the "I am fucked up and will make out with the facepaint guy" sort of way proceeded to wrap up the night (and a large number of votes). Majestico is good-looking in the "Joe Baine Colvert literally told us he 'would get tender' with them" sort of way, and ended up with the judge vote. They earned it — but democracy reigned supreme last night, and the fans are sending Rose to Bonnaroo. She's like our Adam Lambert. We knew her when.
To win free tickets to the next Road to Bonnaroo show, send an essay describing why you deserve them to email@example.com.
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