Where the hell were you this past Friday, huh? You definitely weren't at the Exit/In, and that's a damn shame—you missed some mighty fine hip-hop. The Spin were a tad surprised when we arrived, more or less on time, to find only a smattering of souls sitting down listening to Boom Bap/Funky Good Time resident DJ Bowls. BPM the Street, the crew behind the Boom Bap and Funky Good Time, is undergoing a reorganization—what with head BPMer Case Bloom relocating to the City of Brotherly Love—and we figured folks would be fiendin' for the freshness. Looks like we figured wrong. Oh, Nashville how we love you and your remarkably inconsistent attendance policies. But seriously, where were you?
We figured you would at least come out for Oriana Lee, hip-hop poet, wife/manager of Count Bass D and a hometown girl who hasn't been back in a hot minute, but maybe you had better plans. Maybe you were at former Titan Albert Haynesworth's going away party over at Icon and you drank too much, but that excuse doesn't work because Big Fella was there and he made it over to the Exit/In in time to host the show. He might have been full-tilt blasted by the time he showed up, but he showed up. What's your excuse?
MC Illogic gets an excused absence since his car broke down in the middle of rural Kentucky and we wouldn't wish that upon our worst enemy. Were you stuck in Kentucky, too, Nashville? If you were, well, that's cool, but since you probably weren't, we're gonna scold you for missing one hella tight hip-hop show. The Tunnel Clones from Memphis dropped big, boomin' beats with more East McLemore Avenue influence than the Orange Mound sound we expect from Bluff City b-boys. Bowls and Oriana Lee put together a set of free-form floetry that lacked coherence and would have benefited from a little bit of practice, but was nonetheless engaging and entertaining.
The real reason that you, Nashville, should be ashamed of yourself is that you missed Columbus, Ohio, rapper/producer and RJD2 collaborator Blueprint. He's turning in his new album to Rhymesayers Entertainment as we type, and the next time he rolls through town things are going to be different—Rhymesayers is so confident in his new record that he actually has to clear samples, which only happens when they know you're gonna be big. And based on Friday night's performance we think RE might be right: Blueprint is a helluva performer with enough easygoing charm and tight rhymes to rock any room, empty or otherwise.
Stop thinkin' about tomorrow
If someone had told us when we were 15 that we'd: a) be going to see Fleetwood Mac—a band who was adult contemporary and soft even when they rocked—voluntarily; and b) be pretty excited about it, we'd have probably laughed. We'd love nothing more than to report that the band—with all members hovering between the ages of 59 and 63—blew us away, sounded phenomenal and rocked with a burning passion that flew in the face of their age. But the show sounded old, tired and phoned-in. We were bummed.
Fleetwood Mac are one of those bands that for many of our generation elicits memories of excruciatingly long car rides to which they were the soundtrack. But the undeniable quality of the songwriting on the band's three seminal records Fleetwood Mac, Rumours and Tusk inevitably led us to grow up and appreciate how great they are. Or were. The Sommet Center show made us feel like we were 15 again, bored and squirming in our seats.
We knew we were in trouble from the start, when not a single person around us stood for the opening song, "Monday Morning." Given the demographic of the audience—just think Belle Meade Country Club—we were expecting a tame crowd with a proclivity toward sitting. But we at least expected that all would rise for the opening song.
Next up was "The Chain." Fuck yeah! Or so we thought. Midway through the Rumours anthem we found ourselves bored. This became the case with many of the hits—which the band's set was chock full of, this being a "greatest hits" tour and all. From "Dreams" to "Rhiannon," "Gold Dust Woman" to "Tusk," nearly every one of the band's indelible classics in what Stevie Nicks called their "myriad of treasure trove songs" underwhelmed, lacking the potency of their original recordings. "Tusk" was going fine until the whole USC marching band section was piped in by either a sequencer or a synthesizer, making it seem instantly cheesy. Where are Heypenny when you need 'em?
The biggest problem was Stevie Nicks. Her voice sounded fatigued, pitchy and at some points just plain bad. Most of the songs were dropped down a key or two and she would still take many of the lower harmonies, which contributed to the songs' losing a lot of their power. Couple this with her uncomfortable "mystic" fabric twirling and you have a performance that bordered on goat-like parody throughout the duration of the show. She seems like a real nice lady and all, it's just that people are paying upward of $150 a ticket for this show and, frankly, deserved better for that price.
Lindsey Buckingham, on the other hand, was mostly great. His voice, by and large, has held up, and he had more than his share of blistering guitar solos. His talents were not enough to save the show, however, and he too has a presence that borders on parody, fawning over himself and playing up the whole star-crossed lovers schtick in a way that makes him come off as weirdly self-absorbed. Even for a rock star.
Unfortunately, Christine McVie, having retired from touring, was absent from the proceedings, and the version of "Say You Love Me" they played made us long for her presence. Her ex-husband, bassist John McVie, held down a solid groove—no complaints about him—while Mick Fleetwood was mostly awesome, both as a hammy performer and a player. His greatest transgression was a drum solo during the encore that sounded frighteningly similar to Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida."
The night wasn't without at least a few moments, as songs like "Second Hand News," "Go Your Own Way" and especially "Landslide" still retained some of their power. But the show never really got to the point of kicking ass. Waiting for those few and far between moments kept us there for the entire two-and-a-half hours, but, unsatisfied at show's end, we headed over to the Features show at Mercy Lounge for something that rocks!
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