Vile we were sleeping
As fans of Kurt Vile's minimalist, ambient-acoustic underground dream rants on Childish Prodigy, The Spin anticipated the sort of gratification one receives when a recording artist travels to the city where one lives to perform those songs that breathed fresh air to the ear upon the album's release. The live show should illuminate a band's aesthetic and cast light into those cerebral caverns that listening alone leaves dark. In other words, you gotta see it to believe it. And since music is our church, believin' is everything.
Like The Spin, openers The Soft Pack possess an affinity for well-driven, Feelies-tempo college rock, especially when flourished with those little uplifting surf-rock solos (you know, like the Kids in the Hall theme or Pixies' "Cecilia Ann") that, for all their dirty Chuck Taylor-affirming splendor, would be really easy to play on Guitar Hero.
No offense to opening-opening act and dyslexic potty-mouths Purling Hiss, but they were done by the time we got to Mercy Lounge at the reasonably rockish hour of 10 p.m. Friday night. Since we like elbow room, and feel self-conscious standing in front of shorter people, an undersold Lounge was not a bad thing. While we suggested Vandy's homecoming as a culprit for the low turnout, Mercy's John Bruton asserted folks were conserving their cheddar for the upcoming Blonde Redhead show. With deference to Mr. Bruton, we returned to The Soft Pack, who rewarded our ear. Dudes should've had a tip jar.
The rest of the night was a wash. Vile and his band (the Violators) sound-checked for an absurd 20 minutes. While we thought that any band that spent that much time toying with their gear should be guaranteed to deliver a real rock 'n' roll experience, what we got, unfortunately, was a cheap drywall of sound composed of three overly reverberating guitars (no bass), a drum machine and Vile's nasally snarl. Knowing that these first three songs might just be earlier, less familiar material, we leaped at the opportunity when Vile sarcastically (we think) solicited requests from the audience: We yelled, "Blackberry!" Call us self-centered, but it was the only decent song he would play all night, in a set that barely lasted 40 minutes. We remember Vile stating in an interview, "You have to bust your ass, play live all the time ... keep working hard playing shows." Busted!
Walk like a Mansfield
Not to get all mushy and shit, but we're gonna get all mushy and shit. The Spin needs to send out our most heartfelt thanks to Jack White and the whole crew at Third Man Records for bringing The 22.214.171.124's all the way from Japan Saturday night. Yeah, you guys do great shows on the regular — no question about that — but Friday night's show was something else all together. "I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield" single was our first successful attempt at mail-ordering music, and it was a major milestone at the very beginning of what's turned into a very long, very strange trip. The 126.96.36.199's are a band that mean the world to us.
That said, we've always assumed there was a snowball's chance in hell that we would ever get to see them live, never mind see them live with a couple hundred or so other people at what amounts to the best house show venue ever. Seriously, y'all cats did us a super-duper solid. When the whole Kill Bill thing happened and "Woo Hoo" — from the ultra-classic Bomb the Twist EP, aka our hypothetical offspring's hypothetical college fund — turned into a song that other people had heard of, we thought we might get to see 'em. But then the Vonage thing happened, and we just kinda gave up. But YOU, you wonderful people at Third Man, you hooked it up. Again, thank you.
We were a little nervous about the crowd because, well, this is Nashville, and while we were waiting in line we heard a shit-ton of people talking about how they had never even heard of the band. We were kinda sketched out by the number of people in attendance just so they could stand in the same room as Mr. White. No offense, but it seems like a kinda vapid reason to go out to a rock show, especially when one of the coolest international bands of the last two decades is making an ultra-rare overseas appearance. But then again, we shouldn't have underestimated Jack's people — by the time band took the stage the room was packed and the excitement was palpable. Who gives a shit if the crowd didn't know who they were before? They sure do now!
The set started off a little shaky, and the band was obviously nervous. There was this bizarre noise coming from the guitar amp and a couple of off-the-rails moments early on. Some folks around us were put off by the sloppiness of it, but it's a goddamn garage band folks — lighten up a little bit, and we promise not to tell your friends at Guitar Center.
While we would have preferred, say, a six-hour set that included scores of super deep cuts, the 90-ish minutes we got was more than we really expected: wall-to-wall classics — "Bomb the Twist"! "She was a Mau-Mau"! "I Was a Teenage Cave Woman"! "Three Cool Chicks"! And they brought out a guest keyboard player named Mabo, who was clearly stoked to be laying down his killer honky-tonk piano in the honky-tonk capital of the world. We can all agree there is nothing more enjoyable than a musician who's obviously enjoying what they do. They rocked, we danced, and everything was about as perfect as we could have hoped, except that the one song we really, really wanted to hear — the aforementioned "Jayne Mansfield" — didn't look like it was going to happen. Whatever, we're The Spin, disappointment is part of the gig.
But then the main man at Third Man stepped onstage and strapped on his guitar. There was an awkward blues-jam moment, and then ... yes?! Noooooo ... yes! "I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield"! We've got an epic nerd-bond with you now, Jack, and we can't thank you enough for making sure our jam made it into the set. It was one of those transcendent moments that everybody hopes for when they go to a rock 'n' roll show, but rarely gets — a moment that reminds you why you love music in the first place. Again, guys, thank you so, so much.
We only need 26 more people to complete our rescued Chilean miners costume. Wanna join the crew? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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