Puttin’ on the glitz
The Swedish invasion finally trickled down to Nashville Wednesday night when Loney, Dear brought their sweet-tempered pop to Mercy Lounge. By the time we got there, a crowd had already huddled up front, though we couldn’t tell if it was just early jockeying for Of Montreal visibility or genuine fandom. Emil Svanängen and company played a pleasing set of falsetto vocals and harmonies, with far more frantic energy than we expected. Up next were the headliners, who seem to espouse the belief that as long as people are looking at you (as they tend to do at rock shows) you might as well give them something interesting to look at. Over the course of the band’s set, Of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes, spackled in rouge and heavy eye makeup, went through multiple wardrobe changes—though none as daring as the one he pulled off a couple weeks ago in Vegas (where he gave the stunned crowd a full-frontal) or as wild as the wedding dress he donned at The End last February. In addition to wearing glitzy costumes, the Athens crew played in front of an ever-changing movie screen that continued to offer up increasingly irreverent images—at one point our companion felt compelled to remark, “That looks like a werewolf, a lady that looks like a Pez dispenser and two ducks making out. That’s weird.” Fortunately for the band—and the sold-out crowd—their bright, danceable pop was able to keep up, and even surpass, all the bells and whistles. Of Montreal’s latest, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?, uses frenzied disco beats to delve into Barnes’ heartache: a perfect example of that particular breed of musical irony. The crowd was an interesting mix of club kids, hipsters and college-y looking dudes (well, college 10 years ago—think Josh from Clueless) because, in addition to being high-profile Pitchfork darlings, Of Montreal are also a regional touring band who have passed through town on countless occasions, winning fans the old-fashioned way. The throbbing throng exuded genuine enthusiasm, and there were quite a few people who knew every word. Ending the night on a high note, Of Montreal played a wonderful version of Bowie’s “Starman”—it was the perfect cover for Barnes, with his high-pitched yelp and eccentric fashion sense.
No drum circles!
The first thing we said to ourselves when we walked into Mercy Lounge on Saturday night was, “VietNam is playing here again!” We were so proud of our zinger and the accuracy with which we had pegged opener Delta Spirit that we continued to repeat the comment over and over again throughout the night to the delight of some (we think) and the confusion of others. Delta Spirit (come on guys, what is that, an airline?) shared VietNam’s bluesy, raw take on classic rock—even if they had quite a bit less hair. The sold-out crowd (our second of the week) seemed to dig their rollicking vibe, even if we heard someone refer to the California quintet as “Bore Core.” Next up were young rockers Tokyo Police Club, who were operating without their drummer, who was under the weather. Determined to make a go of it, the remaining three members launched into a low-key, stripped-down set. Then, slowly and seemingly spontaneously (we’ll get to that later), members of headliners Cold War Kids and Jet Blue—oops, we mean, Delta Spirit—trickled onto the stage to offer percussion help. CWK’s guitarist Jonnie Russell got behind the kit, others took up tambourines, banged on stray drums, shook bells or grabbed their instruments. It was a little too close to “drum circle” territory for our taste, and we were disappointed that we didn’t get to see TPC at full strength. We had to do that thing where we kind of imagined the way the song really goes on top of the strummy, less dynamic version we were actually getting. Group efforts are great and all, but given that none of the drummers (at one point numbering seven) onstage seemed to know any of TPC’s songs—which are filled with post-punk dynamics and spastic stops and starts—the songs were kind of flat. But it was cool to see something organic—bands coming together for the greater good. Well, that was until we found out that it hadn’t been impromptu at all! It had been, the night before, in Atlanta; tonight was just a rerun of the previous night’s team-building exercise. We felt a bit taken. Anyway, back to the show: Cold War Kids have come a long way over the course of three visits to Nashville: opening band at The Basement to headliner at a half-full Exit/In to holding court over a sold-out house on Cannery Row. That shit has trickled down! Not only was the size of the crowd different, but the nature of it was too. No longer full of discerning hipsters chasing the buzz or even local show regulars, this was a Saturday-night, scream-along-to-every-word kind of scene. For all the crap CWKs take, they remain an amazing live band—dynamic and kinetic and movingly intense. Frontman Nathan Willett’s rangy wail holds up well onstage, and their grand, cryptic choruses feel downright powerful.
Like many rock luminaries before him (including his former Tin Machine bandmate, guitarist Reeves Gabrels), drummer Hunt Sales quietly sauntered into town under the radar recently, seduced by Nashville’s unique balance of musical opportunities and quality of life. In addition to providing the beat for Bowie for several years, Sales worked with Todd Rundgren in the early ’70s and, most notably, played drums on Iggy Pop’s seminal Lust for Life. (Sales’ brother Tony played bass on the album.) Of course, we at The Spin think it’s just as cool that Hunt’s dad is legendary comedian and TV personality Soupy Sales, who pulled off perhaps the most hilarious prank in television history. (If you don’t know, Google “green pieces of paper.”)
Anyway, the point is, Hunt Sales & Company play their debut gig this Friday, March 30, at the Family Wash. Sales describes the music as “somewhere between Lower Broadway and Compton.” (That’s the Los Angeles neighborhood, not the West End grocery store, folks.) To be a little more specific, he adds, “Some ghetto soul, some jazzy shit, some honky-tonk.” And Sales is quick to point out that the show is a benefit. When asked what the benefit was for, he quipped, referring to his bandmates, “It’s a benefit to pay these motherfuckers.” We can’t think of a worthier cause.
Send cell phone videos of indie-rock drum circles, obscure Soupy Sales pranks or examples of “shit trickling down” to email@example.com.
I'm too sexy for my human, as I do my little turn on the manwalk.
Nope, still listed on his Ticketmaster page...
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If no half japanese cover band, then at least a half japanese karaoke night? please?