The Anvil Experience, Chris Crofton and the Alcohol Stuntband and more (Live Reviews) 

Fourth rule is: Eat kosher salami
It's rare that The Spin can go out and enjoy every single song by every single band, but Friday night's tribute to Joey Ramone at The Mercy Lounge was one of those nights. Kinda like shooting ducks in a barrel, really—we're nuts about Da Brudders. While we would have preferred to see End of the Century played end-to-end, 'cause it's basically Joey's solo record and the last good thing Phil "Killer Fro" Spector did, we also acknowledge that we are total nerds. Seriously, who here would have shown up if it was just End and nothing else? Ya, that's what we thought. Ah well, gifts and horses' mouths and whatnot.

The night kicked off with Bad Cop, who were, frankly, just plain bad. If your band can suck the energy and excitement from Ramones' songs, you should probably just turn in your instruments and think about selling insurance. And if your band gets shown up by the Mean Tambourines, then you might want to speed that process up a bit. We saw both bands play "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" and, whoa, did Bad Cop whiff.

The Kindergarten Circus leaned heavily on 1985's underrated classic Too Tough to Die, rocking out super sugar-buzzed versions of "Endless Vacation" and "Mama's Boys." The Incontinentals own a very, very special place in our heart for cranking out a great version of our favorite late-career Ramones tune "Strength to Endure," and they win extra points for at least having a Moserite-shaped guitar and a dude in a leather jacket. And The Relatives' Andrew Brassell definitely crossed a line with an inappropriately face-melting guitar solo at the beginning of "Blitzkrieg Bop," but we'll let it slide this time.

The Gary Sheffield Experience, a quick and dirty collab by Private Dave Paulson and Matt Friction, definitely won the "Heypenny Memorial Award for Best Gimmick" for getting John Bruton to dress up like Joey and bounce around with a "Gabba Gabba Hey" sign during "Pinhead." Warthog, the Superdrag side project with Tom Pappas, Sam Powers and John Davis, might have been the most enthusiastic act of the night, and Senator Tom won the Joey sound-alike competition with awesome versions of "Commando," "Teenage Lobotomy" and, of course, "Warthog." Maybe Too Tough to Die wasn't underappreciated after all.

Hotpipes killed it on "The KKK Took My Baby Away" but totally won the night by playing our favorite song from End of the Century, "Danny Says"—the most beautiful song about a band manager ever written. CCTV, or Cobra Cheetah Tiger Viper if you're not into the whole brevity thing, got the crazy dude with a poor sense of balance worked up into a lather with blazing versions of "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg" and "Howlin' at the Moon."

The Tits closed out the night and probably summed it up best when they said, "Joey is looking up from hell and thinking, 'No.'" They did pull out a rad version of "California Sun," which is technically not a Ramones song, but it's closer than their covers of "Ace of Spades" and "Search and Destroy." But who are we to complain? You know, gifts and horses' mouths and whatnot.

We came to the show
"If I don't get rich I'm gonna find another way to make a living. I know a lot about finance. Don't worry about me," observed Chris Crofton Saturday night. Oh, we're not. Chris Crofton and the Alcohol Stuntband, playing Saturday night at The Basement in support of their new self-titled EP, seem to know exactly what they're doing. But let's back up a bit.

Firstly, we must apologize for missing Take the Power Back, the all-female Rage Against the Machine cover band. It's just as well, really. We're not very familiar with the RATM oeuvre. The band's virtuosity and passion would have been wasted on us; our penetrating critical intelligence would have been wasted on them.

Anyhow, by the time we joined the packed Basement crowd—amid thick clouds of fog that made us feel like we were on the surface of Jupiter—we were impatient for some rock. Crofton came prepared for the occasion in a black jumpsuit with his band name written in tape on the back. The night's performance was a loud, high-speed and focused show that revealed the band's love for AC/DC-style hard rock. (Its current lineup features Brandes Holcomb on guitar, Dave Dawson on bass and Todd Martin on drums.) During an hour-long set, they sped through a mix of old favorites like "Functional Drunk" and "Snakeskin Snake," and newer material like "She's Insane" and "B4 U Go 2 Jail" (in which Crofton offers erotic services to a future inmate).

The fog was thicker than ever as the band launched into misogynist-rocker "Girls," prompting Crofton to remark, "I feel like I'm Sherlock Holmes playing a rock concert." (More like John Holmes playing a rock concert, right?) The show was lighter on between-song banter than the usual Stuntband outing, but Crofton did pause to offer his advice on cocaine ("Actually, it's not that expensive anymore"), and to comment on the audience ("I hope you like sweaty guys!").

They rounded out the show with old favorites "Dickerson Pike," a song that imagines a group of hapless Caucasians on the world's most dangerous street ("We were trying to find Local Honey, and we got lost, and we got raped"), the nostalgic lament "I Wish John Denver Were Still Alive," and finally, an unexpected encore that could only be "My Cock Is a Wrecking Ball." If that doesn't satisfy you, we don't know what will.

Bringing their 'eh' game
It's been a while since we saw a movie with a packed house, or a band in a movie theater, but Saturday night at The Belcourt was probably the first time we ever saw a movie open for a band. Come to think of it—and this shouldn't have come as any surprise—the movie did a better job than 98 percent of the opening bands we've seen. No offense, bands. Anyway.

If you haven't seen Anvil! The Story of Anvil, here's the condensed version: Two Canadian dudes (Lips and Robb) form a metal band, release influential album in the '80s, tour Japan with the Scorps, Bon Jovi and Whitesnake, seem like they're ready to conquer the world, then fall off the map. Thirty years later, they're still rockin' even if relatively few people still notice. Then it looks like they might get their big break again. Bunch of shit happens. They get in fights, they go to Stonehenge, it goes to 11, they play in Japan again. We laughed. We cried. Some people around us laughed at parts we didn't think were funny ha-ha, but tevs.

You know that poster where Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader are in a '70s arena rock band together, and, like, C-3PO plays synth or whatever, and it says "AWESOME" across the bottom real big? That's kinda how this movie makes you feel. And when the curtain went up, and Lips came charging like an excitable duck from underneath the credits to hit us with a machine-gun spray of Flying-V wankage, it just got that much better.

Sure, the way Lips is always making those wacky faces, the whole thing could get to feeling campy in a minute. But when they played—nay, thoroughly ripped through—their classic "666," it was no bullshit. Never mind that this was a couple of 50-year-old dudes playing faster than most young'uns would care to, or that there's a pretty convincing argument to be made that Anvil invented thrash metal—that song straight-up ruled.

Along with standing in lines, watching drum solos tends to bore us out of our mind. Not so with ol' Robb Reiner, who flim-flammed and boom-chick-digga-digga-kapowed his way into our hearts with some serious tonnage. Dude's got quick feet, too. Take that, Larz and your anti-Canadian sentiments!

The guys kinda lost us on the song about the "Tennessee leg hound," but then Lips then started doing something...counting to six over and over again? Oh wait, it was actually the longest set-up to being flipped off we've ever seen. Nice. Not surprisingly, Anvil closed their just-the-right-length set with some hot "Metal on Metal" action, and damn if it didn't put a grin on our face that took all night to fade.

If we miss your show this week it's because we're reading up on Sonia Sotomayor. Or getting drunk! Email thespin@nashvillescene.com.

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