Dispatches from the clubs
• Like most popular music, rap is a male-dominated genre. But when you toss in associated forms like neo-soul and performance poetry, the influence of women is more apparent. Case in point—the Nosleepbeats artist showcase/talent show last Friday at the Rhythm Kitchen, where the double-X chromosomes dominated the evening. Descendants of Reality are a rapping, singing duo with powerful voices and high-energy soul who reminded us of Floetry. Tia, with her blond ’fro bouncing to the beat, spit rapid-fire lyrics, walking a tightrope between rap and spoken word. MC Coko Korinne backed up her partner Mela’s throaty singing with some raunchy hustle and flow. The men’s performances, including Just One’s old-school MC’ing and Smoke’s grimy crunk, were good, just not as dynamic as the ladies’ efforts. The talent contest yielded some fresh acts. Wick-It the Instigator, a scratch/battle DJ from the ’Boro, is just sick on the turntables and has a flare for rocking the crowd. Hunned Spoke are a local rap crew who made up for what they lacked in rhyming skills with an MTV-ready stage presence. The winner of the talent show was Gypsee-Yo (Jonida Beqo), a native of Albania. She’s that rare spoken-word artist whose words were as strong as her performance. She spun together geo-politics, race, class and gender struggles, prompting the ultimate compliment from one audience member, “That was some real shit.”
• Some unreal shit was the amount of time we spent waiting for Teairra Mari to show up at Reflections Lounge last Monday. The princess of the Roc, as she’s been crowned by her boss Jay-Z, had a good excuse—she spent the day playing basketball with kids at the Nashville Boys and Girls Club. We enjoyed the brief performance by the extremely poised 17-year-old R&B star, as well as chilling with her in the V.I.P. lounge, where she told us how much fun it is to be a member of the Rock-a-Fella family. We bet it is.
• With so many local musicians dividing their time among multiple bands, you’d expect a half-assed effort every now and then, if for no other reason than sheer exhaustion. Not so with Harper and Hail to the Keith, who share drummer Sam Smith and guitarist/bassist Keith Lowen, and who rocked The End last Thursday. Harper frontman Ben Harper—not the well-known singer/slide-guitarist, but the former Comfies guitarist and Feable Weiner bassist—has cut the cord to fly solo, and the show provided proof of his considerable talents. The band played a hopped-up set that was something like the Posies with a dash of Superdrag’s saccharine harmonies, Britpop sensibility and firm grasp of the hook. Former Verde songstress Andrea Dewese joined the boys onstage for the achingly sweet pop number “In My Room.” Then Smith and Lowen turned right around for a set of Hail to the Keith, Lowen’s own side project after stints in Lifeboy, Verde, The Privates and too many others to mention. Lowen was a tad nervous when he debuted solo material last November, but there was no evidence of that here. The set was a catchy cocktail of rowdy rock and pop fervor, and points go to Smith, who beat the shit out of the drums, and Joel Dahl, who managed to make tambourine playing an exhilarating thing to watch. Then headliners Forget Cassettes took the stage and delivered some haunting math-rock with a proggy bent. Singer and guitarist Beth Cameron has a cool intensity onstage and can shift from a quiet breathlessness to a wail reminiscent of Sleater-Kinney’s Corinne Tucker. With all the odd time signatures and battling beats, it wasn’t always clear where the songs were going, but the end product was cohesive, and the surprises worth waiting for.
• Last Sunday’s show at the Exit/In, scheduled for 9 p.m., actually started at 9 p.m. (a sign of the apocalypse?), so it was disappointing when we showed up at 9:30 and the party had already started. We missed The Pink Spiders, but according to Matt Friction, it was “the best fucking show they ever played.” Of course. Still, our excitement couldn’t be diminished for San Diego sleaze-rock trio Louis XIV, whom we hoped would restore not only our faith in the power of testosterone, but rock itself. And oh how they came, saw and swaggered. They thanked the crowd for showing up, admitting they didn’t know what to expect in Nashville on a Sunday night. There was also a pretty high dude factor, but plenty of women to take the finger-pointing, smirky attention of singer Jason Hill, who seemed to find a special girl in the audience for every line of “Finding Out True Love Is Blind.” They played a few songs off old EPs, but mostly focused on the gems from The Best Little Secrets Are Kept, all delivered in white light with white heat. Two words: pure sex. It was balls-out rock—all blistering drums, trashy guitar solos and a pouty bass player. It was also over much too soon. They fed us an encore—a tripped-out “Ball of Twine”—then called it a night by 11. But we talked to Hill after the show, who bummed a cigarette and chatted about the San Diego rock scene and ripping off the Stones. And it was rock.
•If you had a friend visiting from out of town last weekend who asked you whether there were any local bands worth checking out, you could have shown your guest four great acts on one bill last Saturday at The 5 Spot. Ole Mossy Face, Apollo Up! and Hands Down Eugene kept a sizable and already-warm crowd good and toasty for the stars of the evening, The Carter Administration. As friends, parents and friends’ parents danced, sang along and occasionally threw things at the band, the Carters turned in a rocking set whose only blemish was that it wasn’t quite loud enough—you could still hear yourself think. But such thoughts rarely strayed from how polished and just plain good the Administration sounded. The occasion was a release party for the band’s new Air Guitar Force One, which you should go buy as soon as you’re finished reading this paper.
Jazz master class
When trumpeter Randy Brecker last came into town a couple of years ago, he gave a bravura performance with MTSU Jazz Orchestra. This Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m., he won’t be giving a concert per se, but he’ll share his wisdom on arranging and working with large ensembles when he conducts a rehearsal workshop and master class, open to the public. Brecker will guide the Nashville Jazz Orchestra in the Blair School’s Instrumental Rehearsal Hall. The following evening, however, Brecker and the NJO will perform as part of the Franklin Jazz Festival, in the city’s downtown square. With the heady days of the Brecker Brothers long behind him, the trumpeter has moved closer to the mainstream. Still, we hope that his orchestral arrangement of “Some Skunk Funk” might rear its head. Call 322-7651 for further information.
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