Exit/In This bill started out as a two-fister-and-a-foot-stomp kind of night for half the lineup, with the psychedelic caterwaul of Skyblazer (featuring members of JEFF and Cake Bake Betty), the stoneriffic sex-rock of Turbo Fruits and the geeked-out rock opera of the Protomen. But now that Turbo Fruits have been replaced by Paper Rival, we're a little less "fuck yeah" and a little more "what the fuck?" Sons of Roswell bring amblin'-to-tough-talkin' Southern rock from Muscle Shoals. They're well-matched with the soulful retro country rock of Deep Vibration. Another pairing makes sense, too: Paper Rival's ambient indie rock is a great aperitif before the Radiohead-influenced vibe of Athens' Dead Confederate. But with the former wedged between the hallucinogen-required antics of Skyblazer and the nerd-con vibe of Protomen, we've only got one piece of advice: Dose up. 8:15 p.m. —T.M.
Hollow Ox at The Anchor Hollow Ox have maintained a rather hermetic existence, and even though they're playing the opening slot at a fairly isolated and obscure locale, they could use this year's festival as something of a coming-out party. Maybe. This isn't always the type of music that commands mass attention. Taking their cues largely from late-'80s and early-'90s shoegazers, Hollow Ox focus less on the wall of sound favored by My Bloody Valentine and more on the shimmering, arpeggiated guitars and washes of hushed vocals exhibited by the likes of Slowdive or Pale Saints. The resulting gorgeous soundscapes play to post-rock's strengths while sidestepping its overindulgences. 8 p.m. —M.S.
The Rutledge Reliable bills are tough to come by on any night around town, but NBN nails it Thursday night at The Rutledge. The cleverly dubbed Hannah Barbarians offer a terrifically sloppy, achy indie rock that sounds like Pavement pureed with the Pixies. The Altered Statesman are the odd man out here, but their bittersweet soul-tinged swagger goes down like honey. (Eastern Block sound like they've listened to Radiohead a lot, and since they're the newbies on the bill, we give 'em a 50-50 shot.) Stick around for a few more beers and ye shall be rewarded with a triple-threat of jaunty indie-rock sheen from And the Relatives, All We Seabees and Eureka Gold. 8 p.m. —T.M.
The Bluebird We don't know what Dan Wilson has been up to since Semisonic, but we know that if you liked the infectious earnestness of that band's mega-hit "Closing Time," you can bet your sweet, bespectacled, '90s pop-rock ass you're gonna dig this bill. Ditto for Glen Phillips, who last we checked was kicking it ever so gently with Toad the Wet Sprocket in the same decade. Your big finish is no wild card, though: Soft-rock troubadour Daniel Tashian will take you two decades back to the smooth. 10 p.m. —T.M.
The Main Event
The Cannery Ballroom OK, on one side, you have a bunch of bands that will spend the rest of their playing days trashing dive bars and providing the soundtrack to a bunch of barflies' shattered dreams. On the other, you have a bunch of bands that will go to their graves talking about how they once opened for Fall Out Boy, or came within a few votes of making TRL.
It's apathy vs. hustle, irony vs. earnestness, making friends vs. making money in this, the first of Next Big Nashville's to-the-death cage matches.
I'm here to convince you that Cannery Ballroom is where you want to be—just don't forget the guyliner. First on the bill is L.A. band Run Run Run, an act that seems to have landed in this festival on the virtue of a current Southeast tour with headliners Luna Halo. Local metal boys Destroy Destroy Destroy are up next—looking and sounding out of place on this tight-pants/slick-hair bill.
The final three bands are all gunning for that elusive brass ring of mainstream success—babes, booze and a place in the rotation on nationwide modern-rock stations. On their MySpace page, The Hollywood Kills aim high, claiming to draw "upon creative influences such as The Beatles, Jimmy Eat World, Queen, Incubus, and even the Temptations." (Paging Corey Harris.) The revamped Pink Spiders will bring their recently dropped stylings to the stage—we know you can't wait to see what that minx Matt Friction and his band of replacements have up their sleeves. And if you get off watching dudes in vests spin out a decade's worth of hot rock clichés, don't miss perpetually-on-the-brink-of-breaking-big Luna Halo. 8:15 p.m. —L.S.
The 5 Spot Look, we all know The Pink Spiders can sell tickets. We all know they can color-coordinate magnificently and get the kids dancing. But this is Next Big Nashville. This is your opportunity to catch a handful of staggeringly intense shows with some talented up-and-coming bands, and Thursday night at The 5 Spot will host perhaps the most balls-out bill of them all.
Noisy conquistadors of the house-show circuit Gnarwhal lead off with a set that will doubtlessly shatter a few sternums. They'll be followed by the D.I.Y. indie outfit Tigers Con Queso—an absolute fantasy for fans of The Dead Milkmen and Daniel Johnston—and Codaphonic. With their Ben Folds-meets-Supergrass style of contemplative power pop, Codaphonic are the clear odd men out, but they possess an earnestness and vivacity that just might work for the bill. Fresh off tour, co-ed crew Six Gun Lullaby will bridge the mid-set gap between pop and rock with their caustic breed of garage punk.
Champions of meta-rock The Tits and Totally Snake round out the bill with two of the heaviest doses of, well, heavy all evening. The Tits kick out thunderous two-minute rock songs fat with squelching guitars, boundless energy and furious fills reminiscent of The Stooges and Motorhead. Totally Snake are all fist-pumping, irreverent excellence and a satisfyingly chaotic clusterfuck onstage. Powered by wild riffs, costumed buffoonery and a drummer who shows no mercy to the crash cymbal, the Snake plow through gang vocal-laden choruses with complete authority.
You probably won't catch a more gratifyingly wild show in East Nashville all year. Cannery Ballroom will be a veritable sass factory on Thursday, and sure, you might hear a couple of pretty catchy pop tunes. But why not just wait until they're featured on TRL or in some Motorola ad? 8 p.m. —D.P.R.
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