Free jazz, avant-garde, modern classical—while y’all are arguing about what to call MATTHEW SHIPP
’s music, we’ll just sit here with our jaws around our ankles, trying to make peace with the fact that we may not see another Nashville show of this magnitude for a long time. Shipp’s solo piano performance last Friday night capped a terrific, if introspective, evening of music at Indiana Avenue Primitive Baptist Church, featuring one of the more eclectic (and ingenious) lineups in recent memory. HANDS OFF CUBA
started the evening, combining laptops and samplers with live drums, trumpet and guitar for a brooding set that sounded like Ummagumma
-era Pink Floyd meets circa-1970 Miles Davis. Then came a rare Nashville appearance by LAMBCHOP
, whose gossamer arrangements were enhanced by the warm acoustics and intimate environment. For a band with nine musicians, they sounded commendably uncluttered, and it was a treat to hear TONY CROW
on a grand piano, even if he was obscured from sight for much of the crowd (and band).
After the break, Matthew Shipp unobtrusively took the stage and proceeded to pound, caress, tease and provoke the grand piano continuously for 50-plus minutes, one piece slowly morphing into the next with no interruption. It was an astonishing display, as if he had consumed the entirety of popular music, broken it down to its genetic code, then reassembled the DNA into a seemingly infinite number of mutations: familiar, delicate, unnerving, harmonically dense, nostalgic, atonal, pulsating, arrhythmic (and that was just the first 60 seconds). Classical allusions, straight-ahead jazz changes and simple melodies would emerge out of cacophony, then would be gradually recast in ways that contradicted their usual associations—a jarring “Summertime,” in particular, seemed loaded with political overtones. At the end of the set, the audience—featuring a sizable contingent of scenesters who likely wouldn’t have shown up without Lambchop on the bill—erupted in a hearty standing ovation. Surely some of that ovation was for promoter CHRIS DAVIS
, for envisioning a way to draw a big crowd to a free jazz show in Nashville, in the process increasing the fan base for future bills of this kind. Davis has packed the next month with some spectacular bookings, chief among them an appearance by NYC avant-garde titans TONY CONRAD
, RHYS CHATHAM
and JONATHAN KANE
at Ruby Green on March 13. Also upcoming: Portland, Ore.’s freewheeling JACKIE-O MOTHERFUCKER
, March 16 at the Primitive Baptist Church; avant-folk outfit WOODEN WAND AND THE VANISHING VOICE
, March 26; and STEVE MACKAY
, the saxophonist most famously known for playing on The Stooges’ Funhouse
, March 29.
Don’t mind us—we’re a little slow today, still recovering from the rock roofie we got slipped on Saturday night by the DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS
. Last we remember, we were double-fisting 16-oz. PBRs and screaming along to “Women Without Whiskey.” Then, at some point, PATTERSON HOOD
played the opening chords of the rarely heard, Pizza Deliverance
-era “Tales Facing Up,” and by the time he had “opened up the sun roof and smoked a big ol’ joint,” we had entered some sort of euphoric, three-guitar-induced blackout. We’ll do our best to recount some of the other highlights, but it remains a bit hazy. The Cannery Ballroom was insanely packed, sweaty and sold-out, hence the double-fisting. Making it to the bar may as well have been making it up the beach at Normandy. Arriving on stage to chants of, “DBT, DBT, DBT,” the Truckers opened with their new single “February 14,” an ironic number with a pounding drumbeat and sailing riffs. They continued with a mix of old and new stuff, including “18 Wheels of Love,” “Dead, Drunk & Naked” and “Sink Hole,” whose instantly recognizable, ominous opening chords produced one of the strongest crowd reactions of the night. To our glee, MIKE COOLEY
did forget some of the words to “Cottonseed,” but fortunately the rabid crowd was able to fill in for him. The long encore included the arena-inspired “Let There Be Rock,” “Lookout Mountain” and the gritty “Buttholeville.” By the time a sweat-drenched Hood had forsaken his guitar and was screaming the words to Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died” while guitarist JASON ISBELL
hopped into the crowd, it was pure rock rapture. (Disclaimer: one of us has a little bit of a DBT problem; we’re seeking help, and together we’ll beat this thing.)
A stunning proposal
Hey, Nashville: KEVIN BARNES of OF MONTREAL thinks you’re super-hot. At least that’s what he said at their so-packed-this-must-be-a-fire-hazard show at The End on Thursday night, and then he proceeded to propose marriage (and say something about a gangbang). Oh, and did we mention he happened to be wearing a wedding dress, veil and diamond choker? We’re guessing one of your few marital duties would be to keep the quintet in eye-glitter, a task that looks bigger than it sounds. Any takers? Considering the zealous reaction of the young, drunk, dance-happy crowd, we wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few. The night began with the offbeat electronic pop of MARBLES, a.k.a. ROBERT SCHNEIDER, frontman of fellow Elephant 6 band Apples in Stereo. He was joined onstage by two cardboard cutouts, one of Darth Vader and the other, some sort of giant robot. Then Of Montreal ripped through a set of jangly indie-pop that had us gasping for air in a sea of bopping bodies. Shedding the wedding dress, Barnes got down to business in a more understated ensemble of tight white pants paired with an open, pink-silk-trimmed denim jacket—luckily, the choker stayed. At this point you might be thinking to yourself, what a two-timer! Didn’t the Scene report last week that Barnes is already ensnared in marital bliss with keyboardist DOTTIE ALEXANDER? Well, as Barnes pointed out, we were wrong. Guess there’s a first time for everything.
• GAIL DAVIES
, GYPSY HOMBRES
, KATHY CHIAVOLA
and TIM CARROLL
join forces this Friday, March 3, to raise money for the TENNESSEE ALLIANCE FOR PROGRESS
, an organization that seeks to give voice to the majority of Tennesseans whose concerns are ignored or not heard in the policy-making arena. The show starts at 8 p.m. at The 5 Spot; suggested contribution is $15.
• Many American country singers are popular in Japan, so who’s to say a Japanese country singer can’t make it over here? On Wednesday, March 1 at 7 p.m., MARI NAGATOMI
will present “Lime Green Waltz Live—country-ish original tunes freshly picked in Japan” at Bongo After Hours Theater. The performance will feature songs in English, Japanese and Japanglish (a combination of the two). If your Japanese is a little rusty, have no fear: translations will be handed out to the audience.
Send news, tips, gig flyers and song lyrics to firstname.lastname@example.org.