We appear to be in the era of the two-piece and, as with most things, there are upsides and downsides. One of those upsides happens to be San Francisco’s Two Gallants. The duo made their second trip to town in recent memory, bringing another dose of their rootsy cacophonous splendor. The Thursday night show had been moved to The Basement from Exit/In and the room wasn’t empty, but it wasn’t full. We were surprised that this national buzz act—who back up the hype—didn’t manage to pack in more bodies. Oh, the fickleness of Music City! Opening up in a curious, last-minute match-up was local singer-songwriter Kyle Andrews playing a solo acoustic set. Just off the road, the prolific bedroom-pop mastermind continues to improve as a performer. He has embraced the idiosyncrasies of his voice and pushes words out in a way that manages to ameliorate their already emotional, loaded meanings. Next up were the Gallants. Drummer Tyson Vogel is one of our most favoritest drummers ever and he delivered—moving lightning quick and imbuing the music with the freight-train urgency that’s so vital to the band’s sound. (Plus, he had a totally weird proto-mullet.) Frontman Adam Stephens is an excellent guitarist, and together the two of them worked their way through a set filled with songs off the excellent What the Toll Tells and, we can only guess, off their forthcoming EP. Though the crowd might not have been as large as we expected, they were enthusiastic, and when the band launched into “Las Cruces Jail,” people got pretty darn excited.
Gods, guns & rock ’n’ rollLast Friday, The Ryman played host to the famously staunch anti-drug and anti-alcohol advocate Ted Nugent, but that detail seemed mostly lost on those in attendance, as the former church pews filled with what was perhaps the drunkest audience the venerable auditorium has ever contained. The crowd was also probably the most mulleted and camouflaged the venue has seen in quite some time. Regardless, Uncle Ted was still eager to accept the crowd as his people—his “blood brothers.” The Nuge emerged onto the stage in what we imagined were the same threads he would have worn had he gone hunting instead: sleeveless shirt, pants and hat—all camouflaged—and exactly what any other savvy hunter would wear: a raccoon tail. With his trademark headset microphone, Nugent strutted across the stage, which was adorned with guns, cow skulls, various furs and American and Tennessee flags, all set to a backdrop caricature of himself riding a giant hand with its middle finger extended. Busting out extra-long, extended-jam versions of fan favorites “Wango Tango” and “Weekend Warriors,” the Motor City Madman demonstrated unparalleled stamina—the man can wank on his guitar for almost two solid hours without climax. The evening had been set to such an exhausting pace that we couldn’t imagine ourselves sticking out the entire set just to hear “Cat Scratch Fever.” But finally, after a couple of generic, 12-bar blues numbers that will appear on the new Love Grenade album set for release later this month, The Nuge finally gave us something we were after—a venomous tirade. After giving props to local military personnel, an act for which we find no fault, Nugent proceeded to explain how kids should be given machine guns, how Ted Kennedy “shits blood” every day The Nuge is still around and how Hillary Clinton deserves to get shot in the face. Uncle Ted summed up his foreign policy thusly: “Throw grenades at all the assholes.” But he was just being cheeky. Nugent doesn’t really want grenades thrown at him. We ducked out shortly thereafter but had heard that he has been ending sets on this tour by wearing a Native American headdress and shooting his guitar with a flaming arrow. If that happened, we missed it, but hopefully it meant something to someone. Local-core It was a perfect day—a mild climate and a milder breeze—for an outdoor show and a summer sale, so we headed early on Saturday to Local Honey’s new Linden Avenue location to check out the goods. Vintage dresses and assorted accoutrement vied for our wallets as we spied Buddytown ringleader Michael Madrid and his new protégé/management venture, Austin Wilkinson of high-tech dance propagandists Jensen Sportag already browsing the racks (and purchasing a chair). Soon it was time to stake our claim in the backyard, so we grabbed a few growlers of Yazoo from 12 South Taproom and readied ourselves. The crowd was sparse at first, mostly sprawled-out baby-faced kids, but as it got darker, the crowd got larger and older, with Tigers Con Queso frontman Casio Con Queso on the scene along with Bob Ellis Orall, Grand Palace dude Bingham Barnes, Battletapes’ Jeremy Ferguson and Six Gun Lullaby drummer Tiffany Minton. Up first were The Glib, a Strokes-y contingent who made the best of a thin, unfamiliar crowd. Next were The Turf, who incurred their own fair share of Strokes debt, but improved their credit quickly with summery swipes of dance-pop and oh-oh-ohs. The whole business had heads nodding and several folks exclaiming with surprise, “I really like this band!” Rumor has it these are real younguns—University School of Nashville students—which at this point no longer surprises us. Up next was JEFF, who had the audience gathered tightly around them as though we were encircling a bonfire. We hadn’t seen them since they moved away in January to Chicago, so we were all about it and had fairly high expectations. So of course they had a bunch of technical probs, with guitars shorting out and interrupting songs midway through with silence. The thing about JEFF is that their super-sized, chugging riffs are near trance inducing, so the stops and starts to troubleshoot pedals and such sort of broke the spell a little. JEFF brought it back, though, but thanks to the good beer and perfect weather, it was never really in jeopardy for all that long.
There was no face-plant this time—at least not that we saw. Last time Lucero frontman Ben Nichols and singer-songwriter Cory Branan played one of their double bills, it didn’t end pretty. To be more specific, it ended with Branan trying to remember the words to his own songs and Nichols face down in the parking lot. This Monday night show was at The End, so there was no hard liquor to be had, guaranteeing a more entertaining, if slightly less gasp-inducing, evening for the full house of fans. (Though we did catch the duo getting a head start at the Gold Rush.) The two troubadours—who couldn’t be more different in terms of writing style, lyrics, vocals, demeanor and looks (the tattooed, scruffy Nichols vs. the rakish pretty-boy Branan)—put on an alternately touching and tricky display of talent, trading off singing and even tackling each other’s songs. (Branan took on “It Gets the Worst At Night” and Nichols had a go at “Easy.”) The two men, who came up in Memphis together, clearly like each other, respect each other and, as the stage banter indicated, have even shared a lady or two (hopefully not at the same time), which made the whole affair even more fun to watch. Best Monday night we’ve had in a while.
Did Ted Nugent shoot a flaming arrow at the end of his set at the Ryman? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jack likes hip hop. The guy is a Detroit native, any music about struggle is…
jared corder complaining about people moving here is a bit ironic. pot meet kettle.
nobody said so so glos and desaparecidos for best 2013 show! surprising.
Totally agree with Caves as top album of the year----killer album!
Looks like a bunch of people jerking off all over their drinkin' buddies.