Lured by the promise of feminist empowerment, The Spin stopped by Grimey's last Wednesday to check out a reading of The Girls' Guide to Rocking by author/musician Jessica Hopper, and a quick set from Canadian twin-sister duo Ghost Bees (which should totally be the name of the next Nicholas Cage movie). We grabbed a beer, settled in, and the author soon took to the mic, comfortably nestled in the store's record section.
Hopper told tales of her own rock experiences with friends, gave advice about touring, and spoke in general about her love for music. Teen girls are an audience who are talked down to with insulting regularity, but her writing style was anything but condescending. Her jumping-off point seemed to be that any girl reading already knows what she wants to do and needs an understanding mentor rather than someone to hold her hand.
Possibly because the book was written for kids, Hopper had the reading style of a teacher: emphasizing long "U" sounds by glancing up with widened eyes, only to find a roomful of grownups drinking Old Style rather than the young women she seemed to be looking for. We spotted only one girl in the crowd: 11-ish, with long unkempt hair and teensy Chuck Taylors. She was already cooler than us at that very moment, let alone when we were 11, and we sincerely hoped she was already kicking ass on a drum kit or harmonica or whatever it is kids like nowadays.
Hopper ended her reading with a cheerful "The end!" and Ghost Bees were moving in, bringing with them a guitar and mandolin. The Spin was more than slightly disappointed to hear a nearby gentleman whisper, "My initial reaction: Oh my God, they're so cute." Missing. The. Point. Digression aside, the sisters swiftly won over this Spinner with their witty banter before a note was even plucked. We were worried the first song, titled "Vampires of the West Coast," was going to be about Twilight or something, but they assured the audience that actually about 15 percent of Canadians are vampires. Like, 3,000 to 4,000. Basically the whole country.
The band is from Nova Scotia, and their mossy dirges reminded us more than a little of traditional folk songs from their hometown province. The twins would rock back and forth as they played, making an unsettling amount of eye contact with one another to determine when they were going to jump back into the song after what we felt were too many false endings. Loads of things about them were unsettling, actually: Their sparse playing and Siamese cat harmonies give one the impression that something is sneaking up, ready to strike.
It all made sense when they explained, using their soothing "Delicious Dish" voices: "We're really just an unconventional metal band." Of course! A song that ends with the line "the child was dead" is just about as metal as you can get, even if you're a folk duo.
Some post-show milling about caused us to overhear a man say, in regards to the Guide, "That's the kind of book you'd buy for your niece." Good idea! We picked up a copy for ours, and when we told Hopper that the recipient was slightly under the recommended age of 10 to 16, she still busted out some truth on the inscription: "Baby Spin, you are never too young to start rockin'!"
Over and out
We are not exactly what you would call sentimental. We value a ribald rip on our fellow man more than say, actually talking to them. We live in a constant state of Year Zero, burning bridges before we get to them, choosing enemies with our eyes closed and judging music based solely on a person's taste in flip-flops. We are culture vultures that feast on the emotional carrion of others, the scorpions on the backs of musical frogs, surfing your corpses to the bottom of the Cumberland River. The Spin does not live to make the masses happy, but to find truth in the cloudy morass of popular music, and if that means sacrificing a small bit of our humanity, so be it. We don't give a fuck, just put us on the list already.
Thus, it was exceedingly weird that The Spin actually did feel a little tug on our heartstrings over the course of Friday night. Maybe it was the net result of round the clock Dead Kennedys on tee-vee or the fact that the Spin started drinking at the Red Door West around 5 in the afternoon, but there was a small shadow of sadness cast upon all our affairs that evening. We made our way around the West Side, saying our goodbyes to various scenesters that were using the end of summer as an excuse to skedaddle, dodging the dipshit college kids swarming the sidewalks like cockroaches after a hard rain, and thinking about the good times we'd usually have suppressed out of professional obligation.
We started at a party for two Music Row worker bees who were leaving the hive, so to speak—one off to the French countryside to teach the cheese-eaters how to speak good English and the other, uh, off to an accounting firm in Murfreesboro. Regardless of the inherent glamor in either's relocation, it is hard not to celebrate when a person is able to escape The Office Park of Broken Dreams, that strip of innocent looking buildings that has crushed the souls of so many. And even though we felt joy that these two innocents were making their getaway, that joy was tempered by the walking dead among us who would return on Monday to keep the gears of commerce turning. Each time we caught the vacant look of database zombies, a little bit of our soul died.
Luckily, DJ Coolout was playing around the corner at Blue Bar, and that dude has soul to spare. Of course he's taking all of that excess soul to the City of Brotherly Love, but we figured we'd make like Pete Rock and reminisce while we could. See, even though we can't remember the first time we saw Coolout, he has provided the soundtracks to some of our most amazing evenings over the last few years. His constant stream of recorded music has kept our iPod bumpin' and his DJ sets have kept our asses moving for the better part of the Naughty Aughties, and even though we've had eight months notice of his imminent departure (see his stellar CD, The Long Goodbye) it's still a little shocking, a little saddening that he's going through with it. The man sees no boundaries between musical genres and can wreck the floor with just about anything—house, pop, hip-hop, you name it—which is a skill and a style that will be sorely missed. As The Spin sat in the back of the bar, sippin' our vodka-crans, we couldn't help but think that there was a huge void opening up in the heart of the city's music scene, not likely to be filled again anytime soon.
On the upside, we met Mama Coolout, who—unsurpisingly—is one cool lady. We're partial to anybody who will request Whodini's hip-hop masterpiece "5 Minutes of Funk," but when that person invokes maternal authority to make sure it gets played, well, that means we've met our new hero. Maybe we can talk her into taking up the reins—we already now she's got taste and we bet her platter-pushing son has left a couple of turntables in the attic. As Coolout ceded the sound system to Jay Spade (a.k.a. Boom Bap/Funky Good Time co-conspirator DJ Rate), we got a text that the evening's other ex-pats-in-progress, German Castro, were about to go on at Springwater. So we downed our drinks and bid adieu to one of our favorite local DJs and marked the end of an era in local dance culture. Good luck and godspeed, Mr. Coolout. Good luck and godspeed.
North to the future
Speaking of Springwater, rocker and Scene contributor Matt Sullivan was on hand to cheerfully answer fans' and well-wishers' most pressing question: Yes, he really is moving to Alaska. With that out of the way, the crowd could enjoy the farewell performance of his band, German Castro. A sizable audience had gathered by 11, and seemed enthusiastic about Kintaro, a postpunk band fronted by former MEEMAW man Wes Traylor, whom one audience member compared to Screeching Weasel.
But the night was really about Castro: "You're about to witness the culmination of my career," Sullivan announced. He and drummer Paul McCaige took the stage around midnight, and launched into a crushingly loud jam built up of percussion and Sullivan's fuzzed-out bass. Castro plays metal-influenced noise rock, similar to Lightning Bolt or The Pink and Brown. The songs were built around catchy riffs, and their tricky time and tempo changes prompted Sullivan to introduce one number, "Beast Rider," as "a song that we're gonna fuck up." (We didn't notice any mistakes.)
We were impressed by McCaige's technically proficient, powerful drumming, and tasteful (in a balls-out way) fills, as well as Sullivan's playing. Our companion noted of Sullivan that "he can just play a bass and it sounds like a full metal band."
At the end of one song, Sullivan declared, "Do you know how hard that fucking song is? We practiced it three times today." By that point fans were headbanging in the front row. The bar was full-ish of dudes in hats and black T-shirts, as well as a few ladies in more diverse attire. (We are sad to report that, in keeping with recent trends, many of them were wearing backpacks.) A friendly audience heckled the band; Sullivan responded to a request to take off his pants by noting that "I'm busy playing bass and screaming for you fucking people." After another song: "You're ruining the culmination of my career." "What career?" came the reply.
He announced the next song title as "Paul's Vagina Is Bleeding From the Knife Wound of My Penis," a disturbing but thought-provoking image. Subsequently, local indie musician Jasmin Kaset joined him onstage for a more melodic offering. They both put on straw cowboy hats and played a noisy cover of Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," reminding us that "the big dog will fight when you rattle his cage."
Another friend of the band, Wes Lewis, made an unplanned cameo to scream along to the band's penultimate song. Then the show ended; the audience was contented, and we were more convinced than ever that the band's dispersal will be a loss for our music scene.
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The second woe is past; and behold, the third woe cometh quickly
Ok, Daddy, if I promise to go on the potty; can I have my gun…
8-8:15 third kind
8:30-8:45 the shapschenk restagtion
9-9:15 lazer slut
9:15-9:30 tim carey
This here's mah boy Charlie
While combing through old photos, Billy's court-ordered therapist finally discovered why it all went wrong.