We were just at Bonnaroo, so we should be used to bizarre, sweat-drenched scenarios, but Ke$ha's way-sold-out flood benefit at Limelight made Bonnaroo look like a temperate day at the church picnic. We knew shit was going to be hectic when we had to wait in line for 15 minutes just to pay for parking. (Seriously, it seems like a bunch of people skipped their remedial button-pushing class. It ain't that tough, folks.) When we actually made it out of the parking lot and into the venue, event staff were already pulling out limp, convulsing, heat-stroked bodies to the strains of Heypenny's quirky indie pop.
Now, we'll admit that Heypenny has made us limp from time to time (for completely different reasons, obvs) but we have to say that watching a hot, hazy club full of people who obviously don't spend a lot of time in clubs totally enraptured was really endearing. If we had a dollar for every person we heard talk about how cool their set was when we were outside getting some desperately needed oxygen, we could have gotten really drunk and bought a bunch of hot dogs. Whatever jokes we might make about our favorite local TV-toting marching band, we were proud as hell to see them rock that crowd.
Same goes for Space Capone. We missed their set at Bonnaroo because John Fogerty insisted on not only playing center field but also screwing up our whole damn schedule, but it was really nice to see them make the people who like popular things move like Space Capone was a thing that was popular. And we mean "popular" as in "on TV" or "on the radio," because we're guessing that telling most folks in that audience that Space Capone bring a lot of people out to Mercy Lounge would be like reading baseball stats in Cantonese at a Polish wedding — let's just say that all of our area malls were probably understaffed last night.
For reals, if it had started raining before everyone tried to get inside, we would have been waist-deep in glitter and runny eyeliner. If there had been a fire, the whole city would have smelled like burnt sequins and fluorescent half-shirts for weeks. If the club had been struck by lightning, all of the hoop earrings would have created a impromptu Tesla coil and generated enough electricity to open up a rift in the space-time continuum like something out of that movie My Science Project. Dinosaurs! Aliens! Abe Lincoln!
And there were children! Everywhere! Not that The Spin wasn't listening to sorta-explicit, sorta-raunchy pop music when we were a wee lil' Spin-ling, but seriously: Why was there a 6-year-old standing on the bar? It was like Coyote-Ugly-meets-To-Catch-a-Predator with midgets screaming, "Show me where your dick's at!" Totally, absolutely bizarre. And awesome. Who doesn't love kids saying inappropriate things in public? We definitely heard a tween get scolded for dropping an F-bomb, and we're gonna go out on a limb and say that kid is going places. Y'know, like juvie. And she'll probably end up at the free clinic once or twice before all is said and done. Welcome to the club, kid!
Now, we're not gonna lie: We know all the words to all of the songs on Ke$ha's debut album Animal, and our expectations for her performance were really high. Again, we were just at Bonnaroo this weekend, and we had seen Eli "Paperboy" Reed wreck shop at Mercy on Tuesday, so anything less than a great performance just wasn't gonna do it for us. Luckily, Ke$ha and her band know how to turn out the party. Of course that's also way easier to do when you've had a No. 1 record and you're playing for a hometown crowd who — based on our rather prodigious eavesdropping — are abso-fucking-lutely insane about you. There are not a lot of local acts that bring out such slavish devotion and utter adoration.
Her set was basically a one-two punch barreling through most of the tracks on her album, lots of flashing lights and crowd participation. "Your Love Is My Drug" was particularly anthemic, but we're still not sold on "Stephen" — it's our least favorite track on the record. Still, there's no denying that pretty much everyone else in the sweat lodge of a nightclub was belting it out at full blast. By the time she played "Tik Tok," her monster of a monster hit from this past winter, we were delirious, sweaty and super-super-stoked.
Maybe you don't like that song. Maybe you'd be happier with your Wilco records. But give us a fist-pumping party banger any day of the week. And give us a Ke$ha show, too — against our better judgment and a serious desire to stay out of the heat and humidity for at least a week, we had one hell of a time, and can't wait until she's back again. But maybe next time they can do it at The Cannery, or somewhere there's at least a little bit of air circulation.
Our attempt to see the Jacuzzi Boys started out smoothly enough. We arrived at Glenn Danzig's House around 9, to find the cinderblock performance space already crowded and Daniel Pujol setting up to play. (We'd missed one opening band, Funstix.) The crowd skewed young, skinny-jeaned and bemulleted. With their circular melodies and fast-paced, sinuous basslines, Pujol's band has a strong Strokes vibe (while also reminding us at times of The Jam). They played such songs as "Endless Mike" and "Keeper of Atlantis" that occupy a crowd-pleasing point between sloppily authentic punk and polished, Against Me!-style pop punk. By the time they finished with a long jam/extended outro, it was even hotter inside than out.
We joined the crowd outside for some parking lot drinking, and returned in time for Turbo Fruits, playing as a four-piece. They played a set of fast, exciting and danceable garage rock, with songs that featured clever changes in time and meter that held the listener's attention and kept things un-formulaic. The crowd of enthusiastic dancers at the front clearly agreed.
Nevertheless, standing in a 90-degree cinderblock room with 100 sweaty people began to take its toll on us. So we decided to duck outside for some fresh air ... and that's when it all went wrong. As we approached the exit, a Glenn Danzig House resident stopped us: "Hey. We're trying not to have people leave while the bands are playing. You can't leave until the set is over."
Our Companion (genuinely curious): "Why?"
Resident: "Oh. Well, the neighbors have complained. It's loud when you open the door when the bands are playing."
Us: "Yes, but it seems as if ... we're not going to leave the door open."
At this point some women came in, and we observed, "Hey look, the door's open! We'll just go out now."
"Yeah, well don't bother coming back in."
Puzzled, we joined the group of people standing in the yard. Had we really been kicked out of Glenn Danzig's House for walking through an already-open door? Was there any way to salvage our goal of seeing Miami garage-psych prodigies Jacuzzi Boys? The short answer: no.
At one point, the Resident asked pleadingly, "If I give you back your money, will you just leave?" We observed that we hadn't paid to get in because we were writing this up for the paper. "This wasn't supposed to be written up in the Scene!" he responded. "We don't want it, we don't need it! We have an underground network!"
We took this as our cue to leave.
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