Tens of thousands of folks braved the cold drizzle on New Year's Eve to catch The Fray, Sixpence None the Richer and several other MOR popsters on Lower Broad. While the little illuminated music note thing that they drop at midnight during the Bash on Broad is cute as can be, the tunes were definitely not our speed. Instead, The Spin split up, resolving to drive a stake through the heart of 2012 by witnessing some massive EDM jams at Bridgestone Arena, some familiar rock 'n' roll tunes at The Stone Fox and some danceable jams at The High Watt.
It isn't often The Spin can see a live act we haven't yet laid eyes on, but goddamn if we didn't witness just that in the unlikeliest of places: Bridgestone's sold-out Bassnectar show. We'd barely made it through the door when an unprecedented wash of morality swept over us, driving us to keep our gaze off of every scantily clad pubescent that walked past. They were sporting little more than fishnets, baby fat and the pelts of gutted plush animals, and the sight inspired a sort of shock we'd never felt. Did their parents know these kids were walking around the arena nearly naked? Did we really just ask ourselves such a thing? The vibe was somewhere between that of a mega-church super-Sunday worship fest and a scary post-apocalyptic futureworld cult meeting. Every available seat in the house and every inch of the floor were full of flesh, all orbiting the giant circular LED-covered sonic center in the middle of the floor.
We'd missed the opening set by Two Fresh, but response to Treasure Fingers was lukewarm at best. Main attraction Lorin Ashton (aka Bassnectar) took the stage to a roar of applause but with little fanfare. He waved graciously, and dutifully manned the controls, dropping his trademark thump and igniting a sound and light spectacle that instantly got all 11,000 folks out of their seats. Maybe it was the distraction of lights and quick-cut visuals, or the throbbing sub-bass vibrating our bodies, but while we never actually noticed the rotating stage move, Ashton most definitely seemed to shift somewhere in the circumference with every other blink of the eye. As midnight came near, Ashton created a minute-long build while giving a few inspiring and thankful words on the mic. Just after the countdown, he unleashed one epic dubstep "drop" along with a few tons of confetti and balloons that covered the entire room.
Over at The Stone Fox, the room was already well packed with a healthy mix of familiar folk and total strangers by 9 p.m. The crowd was still settling during D. Watusi's set, but that didn't stop the foursome from revving up the youthful frenzy we've come to know and love. They laid into tunes from debut album Dark Party, whose official release they celebrated on Dec. 28, after selling out a promo run at the Nashville's Dead birthday blowout in September. The blog-cum-record label — headed by Watusi bass man Ben Todd and frontman Dillon Watson — saw exponential growth in 2012, and scuttlebutt is that we should stay tuned in coming weeks for more exciting news.
Clad in a snazzy seersucker jacket with his name embroidered across the back (including trademark cent symbol in gold sequins), Richie "Ri¢hie" Kirkpatrick burned through mostly familiar selections. The tunes were newly arranged for the latest incarnation of his crack outfit, featuring dual drummers and a baritone guitar. Kirkpatrick reminded us why we named him Best Frontman in Nashville back in '06: His delivery makes a song like "Gravitron," about puking at the county fair, groovy and downright sexy.
We heard an ominous, dreamlike undertone bubbling beneath Ranch Ghost's head-nodding garage riffs, and identified the source as Majestico's keyboard player, pumping away at an electric piano. His deft touch and swampy licks locked in perfectly with the Ranch Ghost sound, filling a hole we didn't even know was there.
As midnight crept closer, defunct local punk outfit MEEMAW's "Blue in the Blacklight" came over the PA, commemorating MEEM co-frontman Daniel Pujol's early days — and then the man himself took the stage. We were psyched to see Quichenight's Brett Rosenberg in the new lineup. PUJOL anthems like "DIY2K" are top-shelf without any embellishment, but Rosenberg's taut leads fit them like a glove. Following a quick "Auld Lang Syne," we decided to leave Slammers' OG party to the young punx, and made our retreat.
Over to the Cannery Complex! While Guilty Pleasures were keeping a Bruce Springsteen dream of the '80s alive downstairs in Cannery Ballroom, The High Watt was repping a whole different sort of '80s: the kind you mostly see in Scarface. The Watt's "Miami Cold" was a neon-purple celebration of cocaine smuggling and white suits after Labor Day. As Five Knives played for yuppies in Green Hills and Bassnectar gave club kids free Lasik, a slew of DJs including Coach, Jensen Sportag, DJ Rate and Spice-J kept the party raging until the early hours. But even with that dance-party pedigree, it was local popsters Wild Cub who ran away with the whole damn show.
As much as we appreciate Wild Cub's usual brand of Sparkle Motion electro-pop, we would be perfectly happy if they decided to ditch the jangle and play nothing but Prince covers for the rest of eternity. Keegan "Unpronounceable Symbol" DeWitt made for a convincing surrogate of The Artist, belting out deep cuts and singles in the middle of the city's most cost-effective EDM party. As the clock struck midnight, Wild Cub launched into an obligatory cover of "1999," completely dashing our hopes that we'd get to ring in the new year with "Batdance."
Despite their often cramped quarters, limited visibility and sub-pro sound, the cons of the record store as venue are frequently offset by sheer ambiance. How can you not feel good about seeing a few bands when pop music's greats are leering at you from every corner? It also doesn't hurt when there are a couple of kegs sitting behind the counter. Either way you cut it, The Groove was a choice spot to see a couple of choice bands Friday night, courtesy of Jeffery Drag Records.
We were three complimentary cups in before opening act Don't Forget Your Dinosaur kicked off the show. Converging a reverb-drenched, full-throttle surf-rock shred à la Man or Astroman? with juiced-up blues rock and never wasting a moment between songs, the Shreveport power trio came through with a full-flavored onslaught we could easily just call "punk" and feel fine about it. Following closely after was The Electric Dollhouse Groove Buggy, who share not only the same hometown, but also a few band members as well, and who kept their bayou-base front and center with bluesy swamp-stomp punk jams that may or may not have been about alligators. We couldn't tell, but we're perfectly happy assuming they were.
Has The Groove has gotten roomier, or did just the right amount of people bother to show up? That can't be ascertained on our foggy recollection alone. We just remember there being plenty of room to see the stage, hear the bands, chat with a friend, snag a beer and reach the bathroom with very few impediments. And next up was Nashville's own Fancytramp, who've become a slightly rarer treat as of late, having spent a good bit of 2012 in the studio and on the road. The 'Tramps sound a little tighter and look a smidge more glamorous each time we catch them, and their fuzz-laiden grrrl grunge thumps our '90s soft spot in all the right places.
Speaking of grunge, Springfield's Ghost Dance — a flagship spectacle on Jeffery Drag's promising roster — followed up appropriately with a set of distinctly Southern, lumbering stoner psych. The band occasionally tightens the slack into a garage-stomp frenzy, but our beer buzz fancied their sludgier grooves slightly more.
The Spin's stubby fingers spent more than their share of 2012 pecking away descriptions of Fly Golden Eagle's sweetly tempered fusion of paisley punk and blue-eyed soul into our word-processing machines, and there isn't much more praise we can spew on that lot without risking infringement on our previous rants. Rather, we'll say it was a pleasant soundtrack to record browsing and bin-side chats on an evening that ended all too early.
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needs more candlelight! i like this song.