Jeff Tweedy is not a dick
Upon entering the pitch-black TPAC for JEFF TWEEDY’s show Wednesday, it took a minute to get our bearings—and not because the kind, elderly usher led us to the wrong seats, where we were booted from the front row (front row!) to some serviceable (still great) seats a dozen rows back. Darkness was part of the problem, but so was the angular, freewheeling percussion performance by the opener, Wilco drummer GLENN KOTCHE. Kotche’s kit looked like some sort of failed da Vinci flying machine—there were ropes, metal spiral things and lots of unorthodox surfaces for him to bang on. His performance grew on us, though—still, our companion did remark, “I wish I still smoked pot”—and Kotche won us over when we realized the audible rhythmic purring of crickets was coming from actual crickets in small boxes behind him. Then Tweedy took the stage, flanked by a phalanx of acoustic guitars, and things got weird quick. During his first song, a hushed reverence emanated from his acolytes, then some dude in the balcony started yelling, “Radio King” (The place has some killer acoustics.) When Tweedy finished singing, “Radio King” again came barreling down from the rafters. Tweedy said sharply, “I heard you the first time...while I was singing.” He then chuckled and added, “Now everyone is gonna say I was a dick, and I guess it was kind of dickish, but not as dickish as what you did,” and cast a withering stare upward. Tweedy played “Radio King” to shut the guy up, but it didn’t work. But Tweedy’s lips were loosened and the usually reticent frontman became veritably chatty. He talked about poop a lot—even engaging the crowd in a game: “I’ll say a band and you try to imagine the bowel movement that inspired it.” It was more fun than it sounds, and people got into it: “Korn,” “Muddy Waters,” “Blood, Sweat & Tears.” But none of the silliness took away from what a captivating performer Tweedy is. Songs like “One by One,” “Gun” and “Heavy Metal Drummer” (Kotche joined him for a couple numbers) were standouts. He also offered a couple tasty tidbits: Wilco’s show at The Ryman was one of the best he’s done in his life and Wilco’s new album, entitled Sky Blue Sky, will come out May 15. Overall it was a strange, memorable performance—more “Evening With Jeff Tweedy” than concert. “I can’t see you guys—are you sitting at round tables, drinking cocktails?” Tweedy at one point quipped into the darkness.
Funkadelic or wankadelic?
Who is GNARLS BARKLEY? The Spin is sorry to report that we still aren’t sure. Last Wednesday night, we arrived around 8 p.m. to a swarming GEC and “Crazy” wafting out of the stadium. By the time we located our seats—misled by an usher—the house lights popped on and the band exited the stage. Most reports indicated the sound was muddy but the show was a gas. Then THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS aerobicized their way onstage sans ANTHONY KIEDIS for the first in what would be a series of freak-funk interludes. Finally, a beefy, muscle-calved Keidis emerged, shadowboxed around, shiny hair bouncing, and the band kicked into a stream of hits cherrypicked from the band’s vast repertoire, playing songs such as “Blood Sugar Sex Magik,” “Scar Tissue,” and their most recent blast, “Dani California.” We must note the show was a sharp contrast from the band’s Mother’s Milk tour, when an irreverent (but still beefy) Kiedis discussed at length his attempts to coax his then-girlfriend into new sexual positions. These Peppers were still fit and energetic, but polite. FLEA’s pecs flexed with every bass throb, CHAD SMITH drummed a steady, furious beat and the light show looked like a futuristic disco spaceship, with a backdrop of moving screens filled with live and prerecorded footage that slid around and recombined behind them. But the spotlight seemed to permanently rest on guitar great JOHN FRUSCIANTE, who turned every song into an escalator ride to a ball-tripping psychedelic flashback. Frusciante ranks 18th in Rolling Stone’s list of the greatest players ever, but depending on how much you dig intense, lengthy mindbender solos (delivered with facial expressions of pre-orgasm-like pleasure), it was either really cool or humorously annoying. From watching the crowd response, who applauded like crazy all but one song—a cover of “Havana Affair” that Kiedis described as a number from “a little honky-tonk band called The Ramones”—we think it was the former.
JOSH ROUSE, dressed casually in a striped sweater and Levis, took the stage in front of a sold-out crowd at The Belcourt Thursday, his voice instantly spellbinding. This former local may not have one of those great, catch-your-breath voices, but it has a palpable warmth and wistful tone and an unassuming power. Rouse is a master of masking sadness behind pop polish—songs such as “Saturday” and “My Love Is Gone,” off Nashville, were highlights. Those are sad songs, and if we have one quibble with Mr. Rouse, it’s that we may have liked him better when he wasn’t so darn happy. Joined for a hefty segment of the show by his long-locked Spanish girlfriend, it was clear Rouse was focused on the here and now. The majority of his set was culled from recent projects (“Miracle,” off his third album Under the Cold Blue Stars, was the furthest back he reached in his catalog.) Though all clearly expert musicians, his band—which included familiar local faces DANIEL TASHIAN and HAGS HAGGERTY sounded a bit rusty, which was to be expected considering how rarely they get to play together. Overall, the tone of the evening was fun and upbeat, a joyous homecoming for this prodigal son.
We got moshed on during “Little Razorblade”
THE PINK SPIDERS gave us ample reason to head down to teen safe haven Rcktwn Friday night for overpriced cover charges, a free coat check and a ban on items such as lighters, tobacco and aerosol cans. Damn, we were really craving Whippits with a side of Scotchgard that night. We caught part of KILL HANNAH, a teen goth band whose shirtless singer (still wearing a scarf and jacket, just no shirt) nailed the angsty moan. Then The Pink Spiders took the stage, reminding the crowd often how “fucking great it was to be back home in Nashville.” (Is cursing allowed at Rcktwn?) Fans crowded in, while some stomped, kicked and flailed mid-audience. Much to our surprise, a mosh pit emerged right next to us, filled with kids doing the old-school hardcore dance, windmill arms and all—without irony! The Spiders have always exhibited a lot of attitude toward their audience, but intensive touring seems to have schooled the band in how to really engage the crowd. Now they asked the kids to clap, sing and shout along, and some of the girls up front had an extensive hand-gesture dance routine pre-rehearsed for the chorus to “Back to the Middle.” Finally, toward the end of the set, bassist JON DECIOUS threw up, turned to the crowd and said, “I just threw up. You people make me sick,” to which singer Matt Friction responded, “It’s always been a dream of ours to have one of us throw up onstage and be able to say that. Thanks for making our dreams come true.”
Send band names for Tweedy’s poopie game, examples of wanky, yet satisfying guitar solos and tales of teen angst (and moshing) gone awry to email@example.com.
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