Land of tall
We arrived at Cannery Ballroom last Tuesday night to the warm, welcoming glow of corporate infiltration: The folks from Toyota were pimping some new, tricked-out model and doling out silk-screened T-shirts with a Rock Band setup in the back of one of their cars. As hilarious as it was to watch noobs drumming along to Descendents, the bitter cold only allowed us time to scoff at a verse or two before filing into the venue.
After a bit of a clusterfuck at will-call, we entered the Ballroom as Land of Talk started their set. While Broken Social Scene has a habit of touring with their transient members' less-than-impressive BSS mini-clone side projects, the Montreal three-piece immediately won us over. They covered quite a bit of space for a pop-savvy, punkish trio, and the groove was airtight.
We're not sure if getting their water broken had anything to do with it, but the Cannery certainly seems to be stepping up their sound as of late. We would have liked to hear a bit more of Land of Talk guitarist/lead singer Elizabeth Powell's jagged, impressive playing and crystalline vocals, but we were just psyched to feel some thumping low-end, and when Broken Social Scene's saxophonist Leon Kingstone joined in for a bit of trippy blowing on one of their more slow-building tunes, we totally got into it.
(Side note: Apparently Canadian indie supergroups are pretty popular with the gargantuan set. Look, tall dudes: We ache for the plight of men 6' 3" and up, but you've got to post up by a speaker or a column or something, because you totally harshed our buzz with your Big Bird swaying and lanky, gouging elbows. We even noticed sidelined Titan Rien Long among the hip-shaking tall-boys.)
As tough as it is for any band with nearly a dozen members—about half of them guitar players—to get a good mix, BSS sounded fucking phenomenal. And as soon as Canuck-rock's answer to Wu-Tang started in on the intro to "7/4 (Shoreline)" from their eponymous LP, we realized the lineup they're working with is totally passable, and Powell's vocals almost made us forget all about Emily Haines and Leslie Feist. Almost.
It seems each time Broken Social Scene pass through Tennessee, the pubescent, dancing hipsters get fewer and fewer. Maybe they're getting older. Maybe we're getting older. Either way, we skipped out on the upstairs after-party featuring the Nerq Twins and Kindercastle because we were pretty pleased with having BSS' "Fire Eye'd Boy" stuck in our heads and didn't want to risk replacing it.
We had high expectations for Thursday night's performance by The King Khan and BBQ Show, having been promised an experience that would make us want to "break chairs, have sex." So when we walked into Exit/In, just as the Canadian two-piece were beginning their set, we were surprised at the number of patrons still wearing jackets. This crowd didn't look ready to start breaking anything, let alone make love to each other! The club may have been a little drafty, but shouldn't Nashville's rock 'n' roll fans have been working up a sweat—or at least drinking too heavily to feel the cold?
The band had the right idea. While BBQ was dressed conservatively, in black pants, shirt and cape and a red turban, King Khan brought some flash, performing shirtless in Daisy Dukes, a curly pharaoh wig with gold headband, and a sort of gold mesh shoulder garment festooned with mirrors. Apparently he's the exhibitionist of the two?
The dudes got things started with an old favorite, "Waddlin' Around," and moved quickly through a set heavy on rhythmic stomp, while showing off their stylistic range. The crowd seemed a bit bewildered by their doo-wop-y slow jams ("Into the Snow"), but their fast punk rockers ("Dock It #8") did get people jumping around excitedly enough to bump us in the nose. As we wittily remarked at the time: "Ouch, that really hurt!"
By the end of the set, even the non-moshers were ready to get down, at least a little bit. They complied with Khan's request, at the beginning of a brief encore, to "get into it, clap your hands." This display of moderate enthusiasm managed to impress the band, at least by contrast: Khan went on to note that "last time we were here, it sucked shit." The show ended all too soon around midnight. By that time, there was no sign of spontaneous chair breakage, but at least one audience member had removed his jacket to reveal a flamboyant fashion statement of his own: an ironic Christmas sweater. And it's not even Thanksgiving!
Very powerful lasers
We showed up at Cannery Row remarkably early (at least for The Spin) Friday night—the Ghostland Observatory show had been rescheduled for an hour earlier than previously advertised. We were pleasantly surprised that, despite the show being completely sold out, there was no line. Immediately noticeable inside were signs that warned explicitly: "No Glow Sticks, No Smoking." Well, after returning our glow sticks to the car, we couldn't help but wonder if this rule was in part a reaction to the Girl Talk debacle several weeks ago. However, there was very little repeat business from that show at all. In fact, this was one peculiar crowd indeed: Contrary to what we expected for a bill featuring two indie electro bands, there was nary a hipster to be found.
Instead, we got a full house of young professionals who, if we had to stereotype, we could have just as easily assumed were there to see John Mayer. Opening the evening was local glitchy clubcore duo Jensen Sportag. Having performed mostly DJ-style sets as of late, the 'Tag put on a performance much more like a rock show than any we've seen from them in the past. Rather than tracks that flowed seamlessly into one another, these had starts and endings, with a little banter in between from Austin Wilkinson, who'd staked his claim as a proper frontman, with sidekick Benji Craig playing the mysterious mastermind twiddling knobs and tinkling keys in the background.
By the time Jensen Sportag's set was done, the audience had nearly doubled in size. Lines at the bar and in the bathroom became seemingly infinite, and upon returning from our trek to each, we could see that a spot near the stage was hardly going to be worth the struggle. We found a cozy view from the back of the room just as Ghostland Observatory came out swinging in a blaze of swirling blue and green lasers that elicited an enthusiastic ovation from the room. The Texas duo proceeded with what they do best—laying down aggressively funky electro beats and growling synthy bass grooves accompanied by a spine-tingling falsetto and some seriously deadly dance moves. Between the lasers and fog machines, our visibility was limited to a couple of glowing silhouettes, so the stage show from our perspective was mostly the laser beams themselves. But that didn't stop us from enjoying an even-handed serving from each of the band's last three albums.
Metrognomes—and the women (or men) who love them. Tell us about your seasonal hair growth at email@example.com.
jared corder complaining about people moving here is a bit ironic. pot meet kettle.
nobody said so so glos and desaparecidos for best 2013 show! surprising.
Totally agree with Caves as top album of the year----killer album!
Looks like a bunch of people jerking off all over their drinkin' buddies.
Mystery Twins should've gotten some love. They put their album out all by themselves and…