Last Saturday, we dusted off our dancing shoes and headed out to Cannery Row for mash-up maestro Girl Talk, Nickelback label mates De Novo Dahl and frat-rush skit gone awry Plastic Clap! Recent Roadrunner signees DND’s crisp indie-pop sounded vibrant, tight and textured. The hundreds of colorful helium balloons were the perfect visual complement to the band’s aural jubilation. Along with the traditional oval orbs, there were some more suggestively shaped balloons floating about—one of which provided a great deal of entertainment for the dare-we-say-tipsy gaggle of boys in front of us. Give a boy a couple drinks and something large and phallic and watch the magic happen! Intoxication was a theme of the evening, and the crowd was diverse—everything from hipsters to Music Row types to college kids. The show was 18+, and we’re pretty sure some of those X-handed young’uns had been pulling on something in the parking lot: we managed to spot one girl puking and another girl crying because a boy had been mean to her—oh, those were the days! By the time Girl Talk himself, Greg Gillis, took the stage, the Cannery was buzzing (kudos to the folks on Eighth Avenue for the move downstairs), and when he cued up the opening sample from his 2006 album Night Ripper, the place exploded. From that point on, whatever dust was left on our shoes had no chance against his intoxicating cocktail of party hip-hop and seminal indie rock. Gillis’ greatest talent is resuscitating tiny gems of pop culture ridiculousness, instantly recognizable beats and phrases from the likes of Tag Team’s “Whoop (There It Is)” or Khia’s deliciously raunchy “My Neck, My Back (Lick It)”—which reminded us of our high school friend who used to self-censor the song, getting drunk and singing loudly at parties, “My hair, my nails!” But Gillis also takes care to sprinkle gems of cultural significance into the mix, like the insistent bridge of Nirvana’s “Lithium”—which got the loudest response of the evening—or Jeff Magnum’s short yet eerily recognizable “2, 1, 2, 3, 4” countdown from Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Holland 1945.” Certain re-created moments from Night Ripper also set the room ablaze—notably the artful mesh of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” and Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” Gillis let samples run a little longer than on the record, upping the level of suspense and allowing the throbbing crowd to settle briefly on the beat before ripping the rug out. The event was one part dance party, one part concert—meaning the crowd seemed intent on staring at the stage, even though all there was to see was a whole lot of balloons and a dude in a black sweatshirt hopping around and clicking a mouse. Nonetheless, for a dude with a laptop, Mr. Talk put on quite the show. Here’s to hoping our dancing shoes get to show their faces a bit more in this town.
Monday night, Douglas Corner hosted an intimate in-the-round featuring members of the core staff of the annual NSAI Song Camp, a place where brilliant performers-turned-professors lead greenhorn songwriters in a three-day seminar dedicated to their craft. An assembly of salt-of-the-earth songwriters such as Hugh Prestwood, Whispering Rick Beresford, Tim Johnson, Rob Crosby, Don Henry and Angela Kaset bantered like old friends and wove some storytellin’ tunes for gracious and starry-eyed campers and fans. Halfway through a round of what Prestwood joked to be “a bunch of sentimental clap-trap,” a sizable crowd of female 30-something next-big-thing hopefuls were wiping their eyes, and non-Nashvillian non-smokers tipped their big-ass cowboy hats in awe. In two short hours, these songwriters were able to rip even their most famous songs from the clutches of the diamond-studded country artists who sang them on the radio. When Beresford performed “If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me (Her Memory Will),” famously hee-hawed by George Jones in the ’80s, he unleashed his own slow-moaning jazz version so effective in its understatement that it could even put old Possum to shame. Between pretty piano ballads and clever musings, songs bared in this legendary in-the-round easily jerked your tears and got stuck in your head at the same time. Beyond the hits, humor and hubris, we dare say there may be some damn good country music around here, the kind Nashville radio won’t touch.
If you’re gonna shoegaze all set, try at least looking weird
On a crisp Valentine’s Day evening, we spent some time with three bearded dudes and one formerly bearded dude: Brooklyn’s VietNam—and their abundance of hair—opened for the Lemonheads at Exit/In. When we walked in, the quartet were already into their first song, so we immediately turned to our companion with a burning question: “Do you think it was a contentious decision for that one dude to cut his hair and shave his beard?” Guitar player Michael Gerner had abandoned the group’s signature style for a buzz cut and some stubble. Wasn’t that the only reason anyone was paying attention to this band anyway? Crazy looking dudes standing around shoegazing is much more interesting than normal looking dudes doing it. VietNam play vintage, swampy ’60s and ’70s-influenced rock, and they have a duo of frontmen who sound the same and—up until the hatchet job—looked kinda similar, too. Their music oscillates between unnervingly derivative and kinda cool. But their bluesy guitar rock was a poor match for a static stage demeanor and, overall, we still don’t really know what to make of this band. (They’ll be back in Nashville on March 30, opening for The Black Angels.) Lemonheads (a.k.a. Evan Dando and a couple dudes) weren’t excellent but they were strangely satisfying—nostalgia is a powerful drug. Dando, sporting a low-slung stocking cap that obscured his age, still has that idiosyncratic indie-rock sex appeal, and his vintage early ’90s guitar tone catapulted us back to when they still played that kind of stuff on the radio. Lastly, we can never resist a band that has managed to earn die-hard fans. Judging from the number of people grinning ear-to-ear and singing along to every word, Dando is still doing something right after all these years.
Send ideas for De Novo Dahl’s next stage costumes, grooming suggestions for VietNam and your favorite George Jones tune to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looks like a bunch of people jerking off all over their drinkin' buddies.
Mystery Twins should've gotten some love. They put their album out all by themselves and…
Damn,...I was way off. NO ONE said Diarrhea Planet for favorite local record.
Mac was in the first Southern Rock group called Area Code 615 and Barefoot Jerry,…
We covered this. He is talented.
Does puke come in piles?