Show us your bloody boobs
When we heard that Cattle Decapitation were opening for GWAR at the Exit/In Friday night, we decided to hop on the Interweb and give a listen to their latest, The Harvest Floor. Between that album and the one they released previously, we decided to stay at home, drink 40s, listen to To Serve Man and relive the good ol' days. By the time we arrived, Priestess were in full swing and the crowd was packed. The Montreal-based quartet play guitar-heavy classic rock along the lines of Cream or Black Sabbath, and while the approach is tried and true and the playing top-notch, the band just doesn't sell it hard enough. Between those two influences and the legions of followers treading the same path, there's approximately 8 billion albums worth of material within which Priestess get lost in the shuffle.
After a screen-projected clock counted down what promised to be our deaths and a caricature of talk show host Steve Wilkos received a beheading, shit was on. Our cohort stated that the show was Cirque du Soleil meets Friday the 13th, and we're paraphrasing him here because we're afraid, after 25 years of this ridiculously awesome fucking spectacle, we don't have anything new to say that hasn't been said a million times. Amid a backdrop of hardcore and thrash, characters from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to Bernie Madoff and some goth kid who might have been Marilyn Manson met gruesome ends, while a story detailing something about wrestling and the Frank Sinatra Championship Belt of Total Domination played out. The genuinely funny show became even more hilarious the few times singer Oderus Urungus had to soften character to clumsily explain the details of the story or ask where they were in the story for his own benefit. The artistic genius of GWAR: having their thong-wearing, demon-assed lead singer profess a love for Carrot Top.
This was the sort of event in which attendance by every self-serious musician around town should have been mandatory. Even for a show laced with over-the-top violence and aggression, you still wanted to high-five every sweaty, fake blood-soaked and real blood-soaked sonofabitch for having so much fun. That's the sort of shit that makes you not care about how that one song totally rips off a Megadeth riff from Peace Sells.... And to the girl who took her top off early in the set: We were going to post our own Missed Connection on Craigslist, but someone seems to have beaten us to the punch. We looked forward to telling our future children how we met their mother after she flashed her tits at a GWAR show.
Milk, milk, rock 'n' roll
We have this theory that maybe because contemporary country music sounds like late-'80s rock, by the time 2015 rolls around everything coming out of Music Row will sound like milk squeezed from the teat of Matt Pinfield. After Sunday night's Cracker show at 3rd & Lindsley, we're almost sure that's how it's going to go down—David Lowery might not be chillin' at Noshville anytime soon but the crowd did have a showcase-core quality that was tough to ignore.
Think fewer Doc Martens and more Dockers and minivans; lots of dudes with that steely stare of grizzled professionalism and a large contingent of honest-to-goodness drunk-as-fuck Cracker fans—in Nashville, on a Sunday. Honestly, kind of a shocker. We got stuck at a table right next to the bathroom, and it was like an ad for one of those pills that make you stop pissing all the time— y'know, only with more rockin' and less, uh, golf and shit. Tucked in T-shirts, receding ponytails and—not one, but two!—dudes who looked like Greg Allman!
Cougars gettin' crunk before they head to the office on Monday! A whole bunch of people who probably haven't started the week with a hangover in a long, long time! And a whole lot of people having a real good time. Including The Spin!!! Shock! Horror! There weren't enough white belts in the room for us to maintain our super powers, so even the awful pee-pill associations had the potential to, uh, dampen the good-time vibes.
Cracker kicked off with tunes from the new album Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey before cranking out the classic hits like "Euro Trash Girl," "Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now)" and "Low." With a minimal amount of stage banter and a maximum amount of face-melting guitar solos, Cracker banged out a stellar set of rock 'n' roll music that made us think that maybe a '90s rock revival isn't such a bad thing after all. Especially if by then they're just calling it "country."
Too for the show
The final installment of Mercy Lounge and BMI's Road to Bonnaroo 8 off 8th series was different from its predecessors in that, while the first two rounds had winners that started out as near shoo-ins from the get-go, the third round had no clear favorite as the night commenced. Despite our best efforts not to live up to our reputation, The Spin arrived late, regrettably missing Kindergarten Circus. We were told by those who were there to bear witness that the band kicked ass with a raunchy youthful vigor that could eventually—though not in 2009—send them on their way to Manchester.
At events such as this, attention spans are short, such that anything that doesn't pop at a loud volume goes straight in the crowd's collective ear and immediately out the other. Jacob Jones put forth a solid effort, but in terms of making an impression great enough to render him a Bonnaroo contender, this was too tough a crowd.
The band that would set the tenor for the night were The Tits, who—par for the course—had augmented their lineup to include a pair of nubile backup dancers clad in bikinis. While it wasn't the most novel approach, it was certainly effective. One look at the stage and eyes were on the mock girl-on-girl action while all ears—easily more than 300 of them by this point—were on the balls-out riffage and stadium-sized bombast that is the band's stock in trade.
The next band of the evening, Shoot the Mountain, decided against gimmicky shenanigans in their pursuit of victory, instead opting to rely on the strength of their material, which they played with enough purpose and raw energy to grant them dark horse status. Hotpipes—the beloved elder statesmen of the bill—also decided to do without the bells and whistles, turning in another excellent performance that inspired the audience to call for an encore.
Next up were Elle Macho, whose "local supergroup" angle—while effective in garnering them some buzz over the last six months—was no match for either the sincerity of the bands that preceded them or the artifice of the bands that would soon follow. Also, the lyric "Elle Macho is here to mess with your mind" should be grounds for automatic disqualification.
W came back from a nicotine fix in time to see Heypenny—clad in marching band regalia—part the sea of hipsters as they made their entrance to the stage. They presented a massive ensemble of players. They had flashing video screens and enough stuff-to-hit-with-sticks to make Slipknot proud. They presented an all-around smorgasbord of flair. But you know what? As Peter Gibbons once said, "The Nazis had pieces of flair that they made the Jews wear." That's not to say that Heypenny are a bad band or that they're undeserving of victory. They're not. But they won the battle based on their antics and not on the strength of their music, which was wholly overshadowed by how it was presented.
While Heypenny are a real band that shrewdly played to the crowd's need for accessories, Space Capone—who closed out the night—are a novelty band from the get-go. Sort of like Jamiroquai or Maroon 5, they play relentlessly white hedonistic neo-soul. It was an easy sell for the thoroughly intoxicated audience. When the smoke cleared, it was apparent to all that one of these final two acts would prevail. On the club's back porch a debate over style vs. substance immediately got underway among crowd members and judges as they cast their votes, sending Heypenny on their way to Middle Tennessee's—nay, the nation's—largest music festival.
When we're not out getting drunk, we like to stay in and get drunk while watching YouTube vidoes. Email some good ones to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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