Nothing feeble about this weiner
Murfreesboro’s weariest road dogs Feable Weiner returned home Friday night to Wall Street in the ’Boro for the penultimate stop of a 30-day, 30-show tour. Lean, mean and sloppy drunk in matching retro running shorts, the band blazed through one of the tightest, most exhilarating sets The Spin has seen from a local rock band in a long time. Singer Atom Andersen remarked during the set that it took balls to don such short shorts onstage, to which guitarist Josh Weiner promptly responded, “Long, long balls.” The Weiner’s trademark onstage witty assault never let up; their shows should be required viewing for every local band in town.
Roots sell out?
Something wasn’t quite right about The Roots Saturday night gig at City Hall. Billed as The New Jazz Philosophy Tour, The Roots didn’t break any new ground—which isn’t necessarily a criticism. ?uestlove’s drums solos were still thoughtful and inspired. Hub can still make a bass sound like anything on the planet, including a lead guitar. And Captain Kirk is one of the few guitarists who can harmonize with his instrument, capable of producing identical sounds with his mouth as well as his fingers. The problem was the constant messages posted on the five screens surrounding the stage. Not only did the screens flash one-word sentiments like “authentic,” “original” and “true” over black-and-white photographs, they also displayed the name of the tour sponsor, Kool cigarettes—a bizarre touch, since Big Tobacco’s marketing to minority groups is neither authentic, original or new. Leaving aside for the moment whether a seminal hip-hop group like The Roots needs a corporate sponsor, why wouldn’t group members select a product worthy of the “authentic” label they claim to have earned? The only thing more alienating was the Surgeon General’s warning flashed on the screen, alerting pregnant women that nicotine can cause low birth weight. Apparently the mass media has given The Roots a pass on product endorsement. But one blogger noted early last month that The Roots “New Philosophy” tour looks like a retread marketing scheme. “They only did, like, the popular songs,” j wrote on echoeslocation.livejournal.com, “and I was overwhelmed by the fucking cigarette ads and shit.” Maybe The Roots will get the message, condemning The Man who desires to profit off the black community, not becoming a shill for him.
Next big brouhaha
The Next Big Nashville festival—or should we say, the Next Big Movement Nashville festival—at Cannery Ballroom and Mercy Lounge this past weekend was by all accounts a success, with hundreds of fans trickling between the two venues for a weekend filled with local pop and rock goodies. The Spin caught most of Saturday night’s lineup on what seemed to be the night with the biggest turnout—for a town speculated to have few casual music fans willing to risk a night on live music, we were pleasantly surprised to see new faces onstage and in the audience. Acts like The Lonely Hearts (with Superdrag’s John Davis on drums), Slack, Cadence (who covered Eminem and Run DMC), Bang Bang Bang (rumored to be showcasing for Interscope that night) and Josh Hoge all put on tight sets with big crowds, some of whom even knew the words. Bands milled around backstage goofing off, drinking free booze and meeting each other for the first time, often complimenting each other on their tunes. Organizer and local music scribe Jason Moon Wilkins was in and out of sight holding it all together.
There was of course a snag—an issue with the filming of the sets and the stage lights. Early in the evening, The Spin noticed a professional camera crew with three guys wearing black T-shirts that said Autumn Addict on the back, darting around the stage filming each band’s performance in the ballroom. Some bands (e.g., the ones hooked up with Movement Nashville) had a pro light show in kaleidoscopic colors, while others (e.g., the ones not hooked up with Movement Nashville) played under stark white lights. But no one knew why—until The Pink Spiders took the stage. The Spiders had their own cameraman ready to film the show, but were allegedly told before show time by Autumn Addict that if anyone other than the AA crew did the filming, there’d be no light show. Sure enough, once the band started playing, the stage stayed as grimly lit as a bus-station bathroom. “Hear that, Nashville? That’s an A chord, and we can play it all goddamn night,” bassist Jon Decious warned the crowd mid-strum. Singer Matt Friction demanded a proper light show, and security guards moved in close, expecting a throwdown. But aside from the occasional flicker of other-hued lights, the band played out the set in solid red. (Mercy Lounge booker John Bruton admitted later that he’d offered the crew $100 to give the band some lights.) Later, Autumn Addict owner Justin Roddick explained that his crew was filming each band’s set and would then sell the footage back to the bands or their respective labels. “This is my livelihood and they weren’t being professional,” Roddick said of the Spiders’ reaction. At least Decious managed to work in a shot at 102.9 the Buzz in the midst of it all, wondering aloud why the modern rock radio station was allowed to sponsor the local showcase when they’ve yet to spin the major-label band’s single “Little Razorblade.” In short, it was a local music fan’s dream. Along with the pervasive (and eventually nauseating) mist of smoke and sweat, $10 got you crisp sound, a little drama and sets just short enough to guarantee you couldn’t get bored.
Prime T Bone
Looking like a cross between a railing tent revivalist and the warm-up act for the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, T Bone Burnett spoke the wild truth to power last week at City Hall, on an early stop in his first concert tour in 20 years. “Cowboy with no cattle, warrior with no war,” the lanky singer-songwriter intoned over the slow-burning film-noir groove of “Fear Country,” setting up the kill shot: “They don’t make impostors like John Wayne anymore.” True, Burnett’s withering, wounding condemnations of corrupt leaders, mass apathy and Bible-thumping hypocrites, taken almost exclusively from his crackling new The True False Identity CD, were hard to make out over the low-rider rumble of his once-in-a-lifetime band—but that’s a little like complaining that you couldn’t see a beach for all the naked beauties standing around. While hometown hero Dennis Crouch from the Time Jumpers held down the bass and Keefus Ciancia whipped up a sonic storm on keys, the audience spent much of its time swiveling its heads between a seated pair of superstar session players: guitarist Marc Ribot, visible to much of the room as just a flexed arm that somehow summoned everything from flamenco to Bill Haley rockabilly to his jagged trademark snake-charmer leads; and monster drummer Jim Keltner, an octopus at his kit. Small wonder the room was essentially an Elks Lodge meeting for drummers in town—Jimmy Lester, Ken Coomer, Nick Buda, Bryan Owings, Billy Block (who plays on the new Nashville-recorded Frank Black CD) and funk master Bernard “Pretty” Purdie (now recording with Alan Jackson!). Too bad an hour-plus wait outside cooled (or smothered) much of the audience’s enthusiasm—the energy seemed to have been sucked from the room, though the absence of Burnett’s revered back catalog didn’t seem to bother loyal fans of 1983’s Proof Through the Night. But many thanks to City Hall for handling all the headaches caused by the switch in venue from the Ryman.
It couldn’t have been more fitting: the Nashville Symphony said goodbye to TPAC in a program that started with a bang and ended in a whimper—albeit a very dignified, precisely orchestrated whimper. With Richard Strauss’ heavily scored “Alpine Symphony” seamlessly modulating through more than 20 varied images of the trek up and down the mountain from dawn to nightfall, every voice of the augmented orchestra was fully engaged throughout, from pastoral gambols to sublimely visionary fury. In the second half, what seemed like half the number of musicians supported guest violinist Anne Akiko Meyers on Barber’s Concerto. Her vigorous but fluent maneuvering of high pitches during the three asymmetric movements stood out in this otherwise traditional piece. Finally, the gradual exodus of players during the last movement of Haydn’s “Farewell” capped the gradually resolving tensions in this work between bustling expression and formal grace—perhaps playing out the arc of this and many such NSO concerts in miniature, in which more daring choices share the bill with tried-and-true favorites? One can only hope that the orchestra will be encouraged to select adventurous works as it builds up its base of support in the new hall, where the quieter sonorities of material like the Barber and Haydn will ring true. May there also be many more occasions for complimentary champagne and petits-fours.
Impurities in Filter
Hey, Filter magazine—and your exactly one-eigth-size clone, Filtermini—get your story straight. According to last month’s mini, there is this awesome new band called Be Your Own Pet who spent the last year “slashing and burning stateside (and in their native U.K.).” We love British rock! So edgy! So, imagine our dismay when, in your “Filter Recommends” section, you placed the genesis of these teen punk sensations in a Nashville basement. Which is it? Their coolness hangs in the balance.