I’ve been in Murfreesboro for quite some time now—more than the requisite six years that it takes to get through college. Bucket City is my baby, my mistress, the woman all other cities will have to live up to. She was there for me during the hardest parts. But lately things have been rocky between us. Hell, we even talked about divorce. Then, out of nowhere, I began to see her the way she was when we first met: alive and full of passion.
Don’t get me wrong: Things aren’t the way they used to be—we have less than a handful of proper venues, and there are fewer amazing bands. I’m not talking about the Spongebath days—the days when bands like Self, The Katies and The Features all hung out together at the Boro Bar and Grill. Even the bands who picked up where they left off have broken up or moved to Nashville—The Bang-Up, Ghostfinger and How I Became the Bomb, for starters.
But things are starting to turn around. The house show scene—always a staple of ’Boro life—is thriving again, thanks to a citywide infestation of noise bands. And though no one has figured out how to replace the much-loved all-ages hangout the Red Rose Coffee Shop and Bistro, pizza joint Tomato Tomato and the Youth Culture and Arts Center have had a couple of all-ages shows recently. The Velcro Stars and Turncoats, two of the ’Boro’s more accessible rock stalwarts, have graced both stages respectively of late.
And, hell, there’s always the Boro Bar and Grill. I arrived late for Cuttlefish’s CD release party there on Friday, May 23, and the place was packed about as tight as I’ve ever seen it. I missed openers Jim Elrod and The Bohannons, which was pretty disappointing, as they were both apparently very good. But Cuttlefish frontman Casey Strength & Co. played a rollicking set of mostly album tracks with some new stuff and covers thrown in for good measure. It was kinda long, but hey, it was their night, so I don’t think anyone cared too damn much.
Their debut album, Marble, finds the band doing the desert tumbleweed rock thing. Opener “Crowdog” is exactly what you want it to be—a rocking jam that clearly signals what’s about to come toward your earholes. And the record picks up from there. “I Don’t Mind” has a ’90s rock-radio vibe, and “Virgin Song” is a direct descendant of Jeff Buckley’s “Grace,” right down to the wonderful vocal performance by Mr. Strength. I hate to say that the standout is a cover, but their version of former ’Boro mainstay (and Bang-Up frontman) Henry Daggs’ “Sandusky” is gorgeous. It’s a good first record from a band still trying to find their sound. Check them out.
Another late night at work and another show where I only get to see the headliner. (Thanks, Sir Pizza.) I got to Wall Street Friday, June 6, just as Romance of Young Tigers were finishing up their set. Damn. During Evil Bebos setup/sound check, there was an inordinate amount of feedback. And this is a town with a supposedly world-class RIM program. Does MTSU have a live sound class? Because this is pretty unacceptable. Still, the show went well. With dense textures and wonderfully trippy drones, it’s some of the best metal Murfreesboro has to offer—and these days, we’ve got a lot of metal to offer. They have a record out on MTSU’s label, Scared Rabbit. Here’s hoping the label sticks around longer than any of the bands, labels and venues that have come and gone too fast.
Speaking of premature deaths, it’s always sad to see a good band die, and that’s the case with Bumblebeast. At first they looked as though they couldn’t be put down—after all, they’ve had three final shows so far. But with the departure of guitarist Michael O’ Flinn to Oakland, the ’Beast was laid to rest. Their third final show was definitely a good one—Foot Village and Brown Swarm rounded out the bill at House House, Murfreesboro’s premier noise rock venue/sometime art gallery. Brown Swarm started everything off with a nice set of knob-twiddling, free-form noise. Next up were Foot Village, who were mind-blowing. So freaking good. Wow. Four drummers and screamed vocals? I’m still trying to get my head back together. When Bumblebeast took the floor, the crowd was definitely into it. There was this strange “trust pit” thing forming—basically a mosh pit but with hugging and holding and such. I’m not so sure Bumblebeast was that into it, though everything was a bit hazy at that point and all. It’s Murfreesboro. This is what we do.
Bumblebeast released A Feeble Echo of the Life of God that night. Can it be considered a posthumous purchase if I bought the album after the last show? Never mind. It’s a pretty damn good record—weird psycho post-punk noise jamz. Recommended if you like the idea of Gang of Four mutilated, piled together and then reformed Frankenstein-style.
Speaking of horror and near misses, House House had two shows on the weekend of Friday the 13th, though neither of them occurred on the previously mentioned holiday. On the 12th they hosted El Paso’s Cormia, with locals The Most Amazing Century of Science and Brown Swarm filling out the bill. Brown Swarm put the spurs to it with a set of drum/keyboard psych-dance—easily the best I’ve seen them. Up next was Cormia, who I had been told sounded a lot like Ruins. Whoever it was that told me that was definitely adept at swinging a hammer. Totally badass three-piece composed of noize, made up, I think, of brothers. Apparently they don’t exist on the Internet. Finishing up the night was MACoS, who played what would have been a really good set if they hadn’t stopped between every song. Momentum killer. MACoS will be going on a Southeastern tour near the end of July. Work on that, guys.
Two days later, Dick Hearse and Yellow Crystal Star (both from Portland), Chicago’s Stress Ape and Lazarus Syndicate rained acid upon our humble city. Dick Hearse were pretty nice. They started out as more of a performance art piece with a dude banging on some scrap metal, a Bhutto dancer and a guy with a catcher’s chest pad on. Then it became some pretty crazy psych metal. Yellow Crystal Star, who, it turned out, was Mark (chest protector), and David (Bhutto dancer), played a fulfilling set of psych-jams. Stress Ape were pretty badass. Lazarus Syndicate is a House House supergroup of sorts (aren’t they all?) who did some superb free noize. During their set, the boys from out of town participated in what looked to be an all-male clothed orgy in the middle of floor. All that, and yet, these last two shows were the most under-attended affairs at House House. Ever. I hope that’s just the college-town summer talking or the Bonnaroo weekend, because seriously, folks. I mean, come on. You can redeem yourselves in late July when formerly local noisemongers Big Nurse return from a long tour with Social Junk.
Let me leave you with one word: Funstix. It’s Linwood and Spencer from Turncoats and Jesse from Those Darlings, a kinda creepy, kinda sweet girl/boy junk rock band.
Look for another Murfreesboro Roundup from Wesley Lewis next month.
And now, the Bucket City Wifﬂeball League (BCWL) scores:
May 18:J Town: 11Sup Girl: 7Winning Pitcher (WP): Shane ”Big Bopper” SpresserHome Runs (HR): Jamie “Mammoth” Curtis, Eric “EZG” Giles, Wes Lewis
May 25:GumMan: 7Pepperoni Kids: 6WP: EZGHR: Keith”The Cut-up” Pratt (2), Big Bopper, Steve “The Rook” Daly
June 1:Black Sox: 6Brown Pants: 5WP: EZGHR: The Cut-up, The Rook, Jason Harding, Matt “Mr. Jimmy” Roland, EZG
June 9:Fürhats: 6R&R Expresser: 4WP: EZGHR: Zach “Clubber” Duensing, Harding
June 15:Wes Side: 15Joe’s Hole: 0WP: EZG (SO)
MVP May/June: EZG
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