The Spin 

When covering Tom Waits, the eternal question burns—do you do your best to imitate his idiosyncratic, gravel-voiced, eccentric-genius charisma, or just do your own thing?
Idiosyncrasy, check; gravelly voice, check: eccentricity, check When covering Tom Waits, the eternal question burns—do you do your best to imitate his idiosyncratic, gravel-voiced, eccentric-genius charisma, or just do your own thing? Last Saturday, at “GET BEHIND A MULE: AN EVENING OF TOM WAITS MUSIC,” The Basement witnessed all kinds of interpretations of Waits’ sweet, salty tunes and, for those of us who couldn’t crash Waits’ super-exclusive party at The Ryman, it was a nice consolation prize. When The Spin rolled in a bit late, the place was buzzing and the 87th band was about to take the stage. Kidding, but with about 15 acts on the bill—not to mention some rambunctious PANTY RAID belly dancers—it was a long night of music. But the high quotient of acts meant that they brought their friends, and their friends brought their friends, and that meant the place was damn close to being packed—especially nice to see considering all the proceeds went to TOYS FOR TOTS. Singer-songwriter JENNIFER NICELEY imbued her two songs with an infectious, slinky sexuality—hope Scarlett is taking notes. JOHN WESLEY MYERS of the BLACK DIAMOND HEAVIES might have done the best straight-up Waits, but he sounds like that anyway. His agile work on the keys and bluesy howl was one of the night’s highlights. CHRIS CROFTON did the best bad Waits impression, and then settled into his own raw, emotive delivery. Declining to learn the songs on the guitar, Crofton’s a cappella renditions were surprisingly effective. Overall, the evening was casual and upbeat. The short sets and lilting pace led to jokes and smiles throughout the club. After the success of “Get Behind A Mule,” we wouldn’t be surprised to see similar events in the future—30 Seconds to Mars cover night? Anyone? I scream, you scream, everybody scream Atlanta’s KILL GORDON get props for playing to 50 people at The Basement Friday night like they were playing to 500. They barked and twitched through their frantic, loose-limbed squalor, keeping the whole shebang artfully on the verge of total disarray, even as the crowd moved in and outside for smokes and quiet. Next up were Apollo Up, who sound more and more every day like a pissed-off Elvis Costello fronting a muscular math-rock band. Their fans, which included MTSU philosophy prof MICHAEL PRINCIPE right up front, squeezed in for fist-pumping and shouting along with the band’s charged set. (Note to the one really annoying dude in the crowd who made a continual half-assed attempt all night to mosh: you’re annoying.) But Ghostfinger were the raison d’être that night, and with the bearded MATT ROWLAND back on keys, RICHIE KIRKPATRICK and his handlebar mustache had a perfect companion, even if Rowland’s idea of stage banter was twittering from inaudible outbursts (“Gaaah!”) to brief mentions of existentialism. But no one believes the Ghostfinger mojo more than Ghostfinger, who assured the crowd that their new stuff was “fucking awesome.” The old stuff was solid too, particularly the massive crowd-pleaser of a chorus, “gimme some money, so I can get high,” with its twangy frankness. And then, of course, there was the riffed-up metal-parody monster “Aminal Eye,” the sort of thing we’d call a hit if such terms applied to bands not actually getting radio play. Even though it lacked the gang vocals that make the record version so damned infectious, Kirkpatrick, his wireless guitar and his virtuosic boys proved one more time that they know how to go for the payoff. Just call it The Bluebird Lounge Though not many in the crowd at the JOANNA NEWSOM show at Mercy Lounge seemed familiar with ALASDAIR ROBERTS, most were quickly won over by his trance-like folk songs, which he sang in a sleepy, delicate Scottish voice. He left to warm applause from an audience buzzing with anticipation. When Newsom took the stage, all eyes were on her; though she recently iterated that she is “not part of some epic, bracelet-clanking, eyes-rolled-back, blasé, nihilistic scenester cult or anything,” she could probably lead such a cult if she wanted. The room was filled with droves (a few Devendra look-alikes included) who seemed more than ready to jump any train that counted Ms. Newsom and her harp among its passengers. The attention paid to her performance was worshipfully silent—we felt like we had to lower our voice when we ordered a beer mid-set. The place was so quiet, in fact, that Ms. Newsom could apparently hear the sound guys trying to figure out a problem with the monitors. At the end of a song from Ys (her new album, which she and her band performed in its entirety), she asked, “Should I just wait until you guys are finished? I can hear you talking the whole time.” Thick as turkey gravy We were originally concerned the funky faithful had succumbed to two straight days of tryptophan, but the sparse crowd in front of solo soul brother DJ KIDSMEAL swelled like a Turkey Day belly as THE DYNAMITES rolled through their nearly three-hour set last Friday at Exit/In. By the time soul siren SHAWNA P joined frontman CHARLES WALKER onstage just after midnight, the crowd was thick and groovin’ to the rock-solid beats laid down by the band’s new drummer. Our guess is the man is right dangerous with a turkey leg in his hand. Pretty please with a cherry on top? We want our HOLD STEADY daddy, and we want it now! OK, sometimes we don’t get the shows that we want. Sometimes Nashville’s second-market crowds scare people away. (Oppenheimer, anyone?). Sometimes we understand why, but this time the whole thing has just gone too far. The Hold Steady’s Boy and Girls in America is one of the most heartfelt, unpretentious, literate rock records of the year (the decade?) and, rumor has it, this New York-based, Minneapolis-bred band are one of the best live acts around. But these road warriors are eschewing Music City, coming no closer than Louisville—anyone want to give us a ride?—and we’re gonna bitch about it. We can’t hold still (or steady) and keep quiet any longer—when do we get our “massive night,” when will they turn Exit/In into a “party pit”? Hold Steady, come visit. Buck the trend. The beer’s on us. Music that matters Dec. 5 is the third benefit show in the CONSCIOUSFLOWZ series, which draws on musicians and artists with an activist bent to help raise money to fund AIDS awareness efforts in South Africa. Tuesday night’s lineup at 3rd & Lindsley features jazz/R&B artist DARNELL LEVINE, THE LIGHT, funky hip-hoppers BISCUITS & GRAVY and turntablist GEEZUS opening the set. The show is 18 and up and costs $5. Send reports of touring bands skipping Nashville, professor sightings at shows and your feelings on hushed reverence in rock clubs to thespin@nashvillescene.com.

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