The Spin 

Shelby Lynne, Wax Fang, Plex Plex and more
White lady soul Despite the middle-aged—and that’s being generous—woman sitting behind us complaining that it was 7:05, then 7:10, then 7:20, and country-soul singer Shelby Lynne’s show still hadn’t started, we were excited about seeing some great live music and getting home in time for Office reruns on TBS last Tuesday night. Lynne (finally!) took the Belcourt stage at 7:30 p.m., and did her best at channeling Dusty Springfield. Starting with “Just a Little Lovin’ ”—also the title of Lynne’s CD that features nine Springfield covers—followed by “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” Shelby had the sold-out crowd, including Lost Highway label employees and friends, grooving to the mellow soul oldies. In a classic Nashville moment, before she sang the classic “Breakfast in Bed,” she recognized the song’s writer Donnie Fritts in the crowd. There were a few awkward moments with her band—she chatted with the audience while they waited silently until she encouraged them to play underneath the banter. It was a short set that gave Springfield a sparser and less energetic treatment than we would have liked, but it highlighted great songwriters (“the most underappreciated people in the world,” Lynne said), including Burt Bacharach, Randy Newman and Tony Joe White, with whom she recorded her last album. Outside of the Belcourt, Lost Highway handed out old-school vinyl—they make for a cool coaster—featuring two songs from Lynne’s upcoming album to be released in February.

Blue Thursday

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him shake his ass—a parable best illustrated Thursday night at the Mercy Lounge when local dance rockers Plex Plex and The Beta Macks teamed up with DJ Justin Kase for what promised to be, at the very least, an evening heavy with sweet grooves and fat beats. Eighties electro-rock cover band The Beta Macks kicked things off with their rendition of New Order’s “Blue Monday,” while a handful of appreciative attendees nodded in approval. Running a much tighter ship than we’ve seen in the past, the well-practiced Macks bounced through a number of synth-heavy Joy Division/New Order tracks. The group does a decent job at re-creating the groovy gloom of their influences, and singer/keyboardist Bill McGuire’s Ian Curtis impression is often dead on. Unfortunately, the covers don’t stop between songs, with McGuire rehashing stage banter favorites such as “Drink more—we’ll sound better” and “Be sure to tip your bartender.” The room had filled out a bit by the time they ended, and 45 minutes later, when Plex Plex finally graced the room, the crowd had grown significantly. Precociously modish, and perpetually alluring, singer/guitarist Amanda X is easily among the most captivating frontwomen in town. Her haunting and seductive croon was tailor-made for the band’s retro-tastic blend of electronica and early-’80s dance rock. As Plex’s set came to a close, the venue’s budding congregation dismantled faster than it formed, leaving fight-style DJ Justin Kase to spin his aggressive club jams to a relatively motionless dance floor. It was another great show defeated by the early morning consequences of the work-a-day world.

Fangtastic

It was a bad night for claustrophobics Friday when rock fans stuffed as many of themselves as would fit into The Basement for Wax Fang’s CD release party. Opening band The Hotpipes are well deserving of some kind of “Nashville’s Most Improved” award. Be it due to lineup changes or practice making perfect over the last three or four years, the ’Pipes have managed to evolve from generic, nondescript alt-rock to a melodic powerhouse of classic awesomeness. Sporting a matching set of shiny silver jumpsuits, the band managed to produce an impressively dynamic spectrum of sonics from their simple guitar/bass/drums setup. The big sound, coupled with their infectious melodies, demands comparison to the likes of The Who, making them a very appropriate warm-up for the main attraction. Things went from cramped to borderline grueling as the crowd compressed itself in front of the stage, while Louisville’s Wax Fang took a few extra years to set up. But our patience was generously rewarded the moment the band launched into the trippy instrumental “Avant Guardian Angel Dust,” proceeding with an onslaught of their special brand of whimsical fury. Juxtaposing the greasy, rugged image of a metal band with fanciful pop melodies—a combo reminiscent of The Sweet—the Fang thundered through a fierce, mercurial series of theatrical rock ’n’ roll numbers at times resembling a height-weight proportional, underground version of Meatloaf. Trading in on the apt title of their new record, La La Land, the show was made complete with a statuesque percussionist dressed as a Roman foot soldier and a pink fairy princess with a beard sitting in on keys. Momentum was interrupted for a few brief minutes due to an unexplained power outage, but at the end of the evening it was good to know some still know how to put on a great show.

Politely—but firmly—rocked

The in-store appearance is sometimes a delicate balance: a dirty rock band trying to play raucous music at a polite volume. The Blakes, making a stop at Grimey’s on Saturday, did well with the format—at least after a few songs. They started out a little flat on “Magoo”—their sordid tales of substance-laden nights felt a bit out of place at first in the cheery afternoon light—but they had worked up a good lather by the time they got to their signature song, the blistering “Two Times.” An attentive and appreciative crowd bobbed their heads behind the used CDs and drank in the Seattle trio (and complimentary “Beer: 30” refreshments). After the set, bassist Snow Keim told The Spin that the band was planning on a return visit early next year. Here’s hoping they find their way into a dingy, smoke-filled den next time around.

Good luck finding a show to go to on Thanksgiving night. Email directions to your rockin’ house party to thespin@nashvillescene.com.

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