The Spin 

Dispatches from the clubs and the street

♦ If not for the kind intervention of Exit/In owner Rick Whetsel—whose domain will be expanding soon, we hear—we'd have spent the sold-out Decemberists show last Friday on the sidewalk. Or we'd have just walked across the street to The End, where Detroit's atomic Dirtbombs, Lucky Guns and an unusually tight Be Your Own Pet were torching the joint. Instead, thanks to RW, we saw the year's most unexpectedly awesome rock show to date. Neither wispy nor precious, the large Portland band delivered their sea-shanty pastiches and lush, hyper-literate folk-pop with wholly unpredicted punch, like Belle & Sebastian with descended testicles. It is safe to say that the packed house included everyone in Nashville who has ever bought a copy of McSweeney's, along with 497 other people, and engaging Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy played to a crowd so insidery that they got a reference to the club's apparently notorious David Cross "sandwich incident." But it was the band's unself-conscious spirit of play—Meloy's unironic Springsteen leaps off the riser, the disarming giggles of accordion player Jenny Conlee, the horseplay of drummer John Moen and Meloy's deadpan foil Chris Funk—that won over even the usual arms-folded hipsters. Any group that could get the entire room to sit on the Exit/In's nasty floor for an impromptu "Hava Negila" was clearly working some magic; the zenith of audience participation came during the climactic "Mariner's Revenge Song," when Funk led the crowd in a group imitation of a groaning sailor passing through a whale's innards. This was how a show is meant to work: the audience puts in attention and energy, and the band feeds on and rewards it. Seen in the room: Dave Gehrke (ready to start the new Bees record this week), Mercy Lounge booker John Bruton, lots of male Tina Feys.

♦ On Saturday morning, jetpack and 20 of their closest friends—local rock stars, actual high school students and The Spin—gathered at Lipscomb University to be in director Chad Denning's music video for "Mathematics" off the band's latest EP, The Art of Building a Moat. The shoot, set up like a scene in high school, took six grueling hours, thanks in part to the antics of Slack's Chris Slack, who was tardy for every one of his scenes. Denning recently directed a video for The Features' "The Way It's Meant to Be." Brian Fuzzell (Girls and Boys) and David Dewese (The Foxymorons) rounded out the jetpack duo on drums and bass. Meanwhile, Slack and Doug Lehmann (The Clutters) passed notes, doodled and cracked jokes about smoking pot in classic high school fashion, while Dewese mustered up his best Napoleon Dynamite impersonation to impress the drooling high school girls. Check out www.jetpackrock.net for the video release date.

News you can use

♦ The Wailers, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Drive-By Truckers, Marc Broussard & Glen Phillips, and Big Head Todd & the Monsters are among the likely acts at the Miller Lite Cannery Row Revival, the new summer concert series at the Cannery complex. Details of the series won't be known until mid-week, but a sneak-preview June 9 show has already been announced: Cheap Trick with a guest appearance by NASCAR ace Rusty Wallace. After that, the series offers shows every Saturday night through August in the Cannery parking lot for a $5 cover, with a better deal on beer than you'll get at (ahem) some outdoor venues. Watch for more details next week.

♦ Nashville native Laura Cantrell has long called New York City home, but we still claim the fêted singer-songwriter and disk jockey as our own—as do the dazzling likes of Elvis Costello and the late British deejay John Peel. Cantrell's set to release her third album, Humming by the Flowered Vine, a gorgeous collection of originals and covers (including Lucinda Williams' "Letters" and Wynn Stewart's "Wishful Thinking") June 21 on the always hip Matador imprint. She'll be touring Europe and the U.S. to promote the disc, but there's still no date in Nashville. Who knows, though? There's a decent-sized window between her July 1 show in Atlanta and her July 4 gig at New York's Battery Park with Yo La Tengo and Stephen Malkmus. We can hope, anyway. Not to be missed, meanwhile, is her long-running "Radio Thrift Shop" on Jersey City's WFMU 91.1. The fabulously eclectic show airs in the New York area every Saturday noon to 3 p.m. (EST) and streams in Real Audio at www.WFMU.org.

Shows this week

♦ On Saturday, May 21, Bob Dylan's birthday, the aptly named Wicked Messengers will present their interpretation of the album that set the standard for the songwriter's legendary ability to baffle expectations, John Wesley Harding. Full of biblical allegories and mythical characters, John Wesley Harding epitomizes Dylan's bent for wedding simple, rootsy music with elusive, complex storylines—which, incidentally, have lost none of their power to confound over the 38 years since the record's release. The Wicked Messengers include former Felix Wiley member Maarten Muller on vocals, guitar and harmonica, along with bassist Travis Collinsworth and drummer Mark Pavlack, who've provided the rhythm section for local bands Losers Beat Winners, Bones Explosion and One Sexy Bitch. The show starts early, 6:30 p.m. at the Family Wash, so let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.

♦ If you like bluegrass, nature and good deeds, it doesn't get much better than the Full Moon Pickin' Parties, which take place, naturally, during or near full moons throughout the summer at the Steeplechase Barn in Percy Warner Park. The first of five such parties this year kicks off at 7 p.m. this Friday, featuring the Volunteer String Band, Mixt Company and Big Dogs. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door, $10 for ages 7-15, and free for children 6 and under. (No charge for pickers, though a $5 donation is suggested; if you don't know what a picker is, you aren't one, so ignore this.) Proceeds go to the park for preservation, educational activities and campouts and hayrides for inner-city kids. There'll be plenty of beverages and barbecue from Hog Heaven available for purchase. For reservations, call 370-8053.

Upcoming and cause for excitement

♦ Bonnaroo finalized the lineup for its fourth annual foray into the fields of Manchester, Tenn., and the festival's stylistic breadth just keeps expanding. Yeah, the usual suspects are there in abundance—Dave Matthews, Bob Weir, Widespread Panic, The Allman Brothers, etc.—but kudos to the organizers for ignoring musical boundaries (which are artificial anyway), with acts like Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, De La Soul, My Morning Jacket, John Prine, Iron & Wine, Jurassic 5, The Mars Volta, Alison Krauss and everyone's favorite Hasidic rapper, Matisyahu. Not to mention a comedy tent, featuring Jim Breuer and Chappelle's Show regular (and Eddie Murphy's brother) Charlie Murphy. (Surely he'll have some fun at the granola crowd's expense.) Tickets are still available, but they usually don't last long; visit www.bonnaroo.com for details.

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