All the talk about the glory days of Lucy's is deserved. As an intersection of ideologies, demographics and Nashvillians looking for more, the continued spirit of this venerable record shop/performance venue remains a shining example of Nashville uniquityeven though it is gone. Lucy's is part of Nashville historyfor punk kids who thrived on all-ages shows wherever they could be found, for anyone who wanted to get a feel for new sounds and the newest bands on their way up (and who could forget seeing Atom and His Package kick out the sequenced jams on Lucy's stage), and for the first generation of local DJ culture coming up in the glorious DIY rave scene. It's still very much a part of the city and its many musical and social collectives, even if it's felt mostly through its absence.
People came and went during the daylong Lucy's reunion/voter registration event last week, blue jeans and black leather and polytone hair of all sorts making for a rainbow of Nashville's free-thinkers, freedom enthusiasts and freeloaders. An increase in body count that started out linear became geometric as soon as the sun began to set. The line between nostalgia, genuine interest and political activism was gently eroded as yuppies, punks, emo kids, Goths, skaters, queers, back-in-the-day boosters and the next generation of "the Nashville scene," whichever incarnation it may take, all dropped in to dig the moment. "There were lots of young people," observed Candice Forte, a local bartendress who worked the door for part of the event. "We have really young people coming to see Lambchop, which is weird and great. Out of all these bands, the only one a young audience would really know is Forget Cassettes." Which just goes to show, good music will find its own way out. People will know.
And while the quality bands helped wrangle in spectators, there was a small victory every time someone new registered to vote. "It should be like a bar mitzvah whenever someone registers to vote. The community should rejoice," said one of the tireless staff of volunteers, who kept the vibe laid-back and pleasant. Youth pervaded the Belcourt event, and even those still too young to vote in the upcoming election found plenty to enjoy, thanks to both music and community outreach. Causes populated the front of the venue parking lot, spanning countless local and national grassroots organizations. Helping to sign up new voters for a significant portion of the day was local indie icon and former Lucy's proprietress Mary Mancini, still helping kids to rock.
Asked about what the day meant to her, Mancini took a moment and took in all the excitement. "This kind of event shows what Nashville as a community can do when everyone comes together," she said. And while togetherness happens in many different ways, communication is always an essential part of the process, and slipping through the theater lobby, catching snippets of conversations and interaction, was like pinning small shiny baubles to a map. You can only see the big picture when you step back from the pegboard. Commonality arises in the oddest situations, and whether wearing combat boots, Birkenstocks, heels or Tevas, the women waiting in line for the ladies room were talking about the issues that concerned them. Reproductive rights. Men and women dying overseas. On the Belcourt's front steps, you could find dozens of perspectives and conversations about myriad issueswhether the upcoming election could be fairly won by either party, what impact the new skate park would have on Nashville youth culture, and just exactly how many people were going to show up for show-cappers Lambchop.
Inside the theater, however, dialogue was a little less plentiful, if only because the bands performing had something to sayand loud. When late-'90s local punks Murdered Minority returned to play their first show in four years, they wove their set between performance art, physical comedy and an exquisite blast of audioviolence.
As the sun slipped away and several Ivan-affected winds began to blow, the weather reached a blissful state. Neither too hot for leather nor too cold for tight T-shirts, the laid-back mood apparent in dress and general demeanor, the Lucy's reunion brought countless different social circles together in the pursuit of awareness and rawk: "I hope we've encouraged kids to get involved by going to the polls on Nov. 2 and by helping in the community," Mancini said, summing up the motivating force behind the day's events, "as well as encouraging others to vote as well."
Later in the evening, from up in the lighting booth between acts, there was a moment when the light was just right. From that vantage point, you could see the blue outlines of the stamp used that day on the hands clinging to the armrests, clutching popcorn, clasping the hands of a neighbor or loved one, applauding or tickling the back of the seat in front of them, waiting for whatever came next.