Caldwell Dunlap Benefit
July 14 at The 5 Spot
Wednesday night at The 5 Spot, The Clutters, Ole Mossy Face and Chris Crofton of the Alcohol Stunt Band gathered together to reflect maybe the least appreciated quality of the local music scene: selflessness. The benefactor, Caldwell Dunlap of The Bubblegum Complex, was seriously injured recently when he was hit by a SUV. Strapped with daunting medical bills, Dunlap sat in the corner giving drugged-out waves in thanks to arriving patrons, even those who (pitifully) gave less than $10.
Although 30 minutes late, we hoped we made it just in time for the music. Instead, like every other time we go to see live music, we made it just in time to sit around for another half hour. It would be great to walk into a club someday and find the rockin' already in progress. What, can't musicians tell time? We later learned that the lead singer from The Clutters had his car crushed by a tree in Wednesday's freakish storm, which might have contributed to the delay. But pointless delays at local clubs are so common, you'd think the sky were raining trees round the clock.
Still, the wait did give us time to notice how clean and comfy The 5 Spot is. Small in a good way, the club felt as intimate as your best friend's basementif your best friend had a full bar stocked with Pabst Blue Ribbon and a decent sound system. Pretty floral and striped Southern Living sofas flanked a few bar tables, contributing to the homey feel. Combine this with ample easy parking, and the 5 Spot made a good first impression. And mad bonus points for the clean girls' bathroomwhich, in a bold break with local custom, had toilet paper and didn't smell like rotting seafood.
Missing a band member, The Clutters and especially lead singer Doug seemed understandably preoccupied. But even though they interacted only minimally with the crowd, Doug's rhythmic beat-speak and Frank Black-esque screaming made hips and heads shake. His energy made up for monotonous keyboard parts that tended to make every song sound the samealthough in the standout "Rock 'n' Roll," keyboardist Ali's streaming Farfisa-organ accompaniment effectively balanced Doug's rash shrilling. Even so, it was drummer Stephanie who kept the audience somewhat involved, enthusiastically swaying her head with a cheerleader's constant grin.
Ole Mossy Face set up their gear gratifyingly fast, using The Clutters' drum kit. All five band members swigged PBRs before lead singer and drummer Casey Sanders counted off the first beats, and when they started to play the crowd showed signs of life. OMF played breezy, bluesy-rootsy Southern rock (we thought of The Eagles) that connected with twentysomething hipsters primed to holler "Hell, yeah!" At times Sanders' voice rang out sweet and countrified; other times he dipped credibly into gritty blues, at odds with his mellow drumming and aw-shucks demeanor. After The Clutters, OMF's complete ease on stage came as a relief, and the audience responded so gratefully that Sanders called out a charming, "Shit, y'all, thanks for coming."
Next came Chris Crofton, sans his Alcohol Stunt Band, who stood on stage with his electric guitar and proclaimed, "This might be boring after the bands. You guys can just kick me off whenever." He then launched into tributes to thongs and alcohol sung with mock-drunken swagger and a half smile. His funny but juvenile lyricsincluding such knee-slappers as, "My girlfriend wears a thong, and I know that girl will do me wrong"predictably aroused some hoots from the boys at the bar. For us, this level of emotional complexity was just too high to stick around. At least without a sixer of PBRs.