Where am I? Everything’s hazy, but somehow clear—it’s…it’s surreal. I thought for sure I was at Cannery Ballroom, but it looks like the CMJ Music Marathon. Yeah, that’s got to be it: I’m engulfed in a sea of bespectacled indie-rockers, and there’s an eight-piece band onstage. But it looks and sounds like a stage version of Waiting for Guffman, scored by Aaron Copland…or is that Philip Glass? Gotta start getting more sleep, less Red Bull. “Who’s that onstage?” I mumble. “Sufjan Stevens,” a guy whispers. Then he shushes me. Suddenly, it’s all one big “SHHHH!!” Hmmm, maybe I’m at the Bluebird? No, can’t be: I’m looking at the walls, and I don’t see a photo of the guy who co-wrote the fourth single off Little Texas’ second album, or of anyone else for that matter. Wait, there’s Chark and Todd…must be the Cannery, but…cheerleaders onstage? With pompoms? And team shirts with an “I” on them? Sounds like a marching band. Wait, that’s it! I must be at a high school football game. Then why aren’t people screaming? They’re all silent, hypnotized, in awe, trying to touch the hem of his garment. Hem…garment…touch? Wait! Could it be? “Yes,” a man says, reading my thoughts, “he’s the nerd-rock messiah, come to take us home.” I step forward, answering the altar call. I kneel. I feel cleansed, weightless. Now I am one of them.
Dispatches from the clubs
• Only about a hundred of Nashville’s power-pop faithful could be lured to the Exit/In Friday night to see recently re-reunited scene godfathers The Posies. Co-leaders Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer made the most of the intimacy by inviting the audience onstage about halfway through their set, an offer taken up by a couple dozen people. This exercise in democracy was generally successful, except for one very tipsy and determined young lass who began caterwauling along, to Auer’s visible annoyance. To her credit, she appeared to know every word of every Posies song ever written, as well as the Replacements and Big Star covers Auer and Stringfellow (themselves part of the reconstituted Big Star) performed during a mini-set sans rhythm section. The set list otherwise leaned heavily on the early-’90s period—when it appeared the Posies’ madly catchy, sublimely clever psychedelic alt-rock might actually find the audience it deserved—but found room for gems all the way up to 2005’s Every Kind of Light, the group’s first studio album in eight years. Regardless, the happy few who turned out Friday almost certainly got more than they expected, although anyone present at the group’s entertainingly sozzled acoustic gig at 12th & Porter five years ago—which ended with Stringfellow on Auer’s shoulders as the duo performed a beatbox version of “The Star-Spangled Banner”—might have known to anticipate anything.
• A low-level buzz made its way through the crowd last Wednesday at The Basement: reminiscences about The Cherry Valence, curiosity about new project Birds of Avalon (comprised of a couple of former CV members) and caveats like, “Got to work in the morning. I’m going to check out a couple of songs and head home.” Well, B of A changed everyone’s plans, launching into an electrifying set of herky-jerky, psychedelic rock that verged on Led Zeppelin, orbited Sonic Youth, veered past Van Halen and had everyone hooked in about 30 seconds. No one so much as glanced at the exit or their watches. After it was all over, one showgoer summed it up succinctly, telling the band, “That was badass.”
• Sure, we were expecting Deerhoof to play songs off their new album The Runners Four at The End last week, and yes, we are aware that every Deerhoof project is a challenging reinvention. But we missed the anthemic sounds and taut, single-minded playing that they’ve trained us to love. It wouldn’t have hurt if they’d played the unreleased material with trademark precision—but maybe that’s not what Deerhoof does in late 2005? No matter, we enjoyed ourselves, as apparently did the BYOP crew (we can’t keep them straight; we know Jemina was there because she’s the girl), who are hard at work on a full-length album under the tutelage of Redd Kross’ Steve McDonald.
Violence good for Paul Burch
Not since Swan Dive turned up on the soundtrack of National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers has a wedding of local talent and national exposure pleased The Spin this much. Behind the opening credits of David Cronenberg’s terrific new thriller A History of Violence—and under a sinister tracking shot that leads exactly where you don’t want it to go—the incongruous jollity of a choogling hillbilly tune crackling from a car radio notches up the unease. It’s “Life of a Fool” by local honky-tonker Paul Burch, who counts director Cronenberg among his Canadian fans. Burch says he didn’t even know the song was under the opening credits until reports came back from last week’s Toronto International Film Festival. In what Burch describes as “other news that’s worthy of The Incredibles,” he’s finishing a joint record with Jon Langford & the Waco Brothers, with whom he recently toured the West Coast; next month, he heads to London to start recording his next album with Mark Knopfler at Knopfler’s studio (and yes, the wizardly Dire Straits guitarist may play on a few tracks).
• Family Wash co-owner Jamie Rubin steps to the other side of the bar Saturday night, as he takes the stage with Circus Dog Serenade, a rollicking aggregation who split the difference between Crazy Horse and the Stones, finished off with a dollop of ambient soundscape à la Radiohead. CDS are putting the finishing touches on their debut CD, due out the beginning of 2006. Expect a parade of celebrities—including Audley Freed (Black Crowes) and Rich Gilbert (Frank Black)—to join Rubin & Co. Boston’s Scissormen, who play raucous juke-joint blues, round out the evening.
• Saints Marching In, a series of concerts to benefit Red Cross hurricane relief efforts, has assembled a great lineup for this Saturday’s show at Hair of the Dog: The Bees, The Clutters, Rob Giles, Molly Thomas, Jimmy the Lung and Dawson Wells & the Entourage. The show starts at 8:30 p.m.; admission is $10.