The line to get into the Cannery last Tuesday wrapped around the lot. The $3 dollar parking area was full by 9:30 p.m., so we had to park at Cummins Station and walk to the back of the line where we waited nearly an hour in the cold before walking inside. All of this to see one band, New Orleans supergroup Down. Singer Phil Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown both played in Pantera, while former members of Crowbar and Corrosion of Conformity flesh out the lineup. The résumé of the personnel unsurprisingly establishes a built-in audience, but a solid cult following has steadily grown since the band’s mid-’90s inception. But, while Pantera, Crowbar and Corrosion of Conformity might have spoken to our angsty former selves, Down has remained supremely middle-of-the-road—borrowing riffs from the usual suspects (namely Black Sabbath) while reveling in NOLA sludge-metal and staying well within the confines of convention. Nonetheless, walking inside to see a huge screen projecting an old Black Flag performance was pretty rad. (The onscreen Lynyrd Skynyrd performance that later followed garnered more attention from the crowd.) When the curtain dropped, the band finally took to the stage, fronted by a smaller-than-you’d-expect Anselmo. The last time we saw him would have been nearly eight years ago at Starwood. Since then, Anselmo has mellowed slightly. The preachy megalomaniac has aged into a more reserved, reflective megalomaniac. Rather than calling anyone who isn’t in the mosh pit a “pussy,” he declared that he’s too old for that shit as well. When confronting an audience member who had been throwing water at the band, Anselmo acknowledged the attendee’s “beautiful energy.” The biggest crowd reaction was given to the song “Lifers,” which was dedicated to Pantera’s late guitarist Dimebag Darrell. Shortly after, we left, thinking the same thing that we did when we got to the Cannery: that Down is likely more about what they were than what they are.
Though enticing, the prospect of a house show is often daunting, due to inevitable overcrowding, beer spills and shouting matches. We found ourselves in Murfreesboro Friday evening, and, knowing there could be little better entertainment than an alleged All We Seabees album release party featuring the incomparable Caitlin Rose, we decided to risk it. We showed up at the smoke-filled house on Jordan Street pretty early but just missed the Jigsaw Mountain Boys. We fought our way into the crowded, wood-paneled living room and found Nashville’s favorite young country songstress Rose tucked in a corner with her acoustic guitar. Rose battled feedback, technical difficulties and scores of unruly hecklers for most of her set, but her voice, as usual, was remarkable. Her set peaked with an energetic cover of the Misfits’ “Skulls,” performed with Levon Emmons of Kids Are Goats. Our intention was to stick around for samples of new material from the promising folk rockers All We Seabees, but cops, threats of being towed and a rambunctious college crowd were enough to send us packing. With things in a bit of a lull as of late, we were more than eager to hit up the Mercy Lounge Saturday to catch a few good touring bands. Unfortunately, with great shame and disappointment, we admit that, due to an inexcusable combination of procrastination and prior engagements, we arrived several minutes too late to catch local openers Umbrella Tree. Firsthand accounts attest their performance was well above par, with the trio having added for the first time a full horn section, which only multiplied our already massive regret. But rather than beat ourselves up all night, we grabbed a beer and moved to the front to catch Delaware’s The Spinto Band, who were kicking off their latest tour right here in town. We’d seen Mercy more packed, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Attendance was ample, but so was elbow room. The Spinto Band made it onstage in a timely fashion and proceeded to rock through a playful set of endearing indie pop with a few dancy overtones thrown in for good measure. With their scruffy boy-next-door, T-shirt-and-jeans aesthetic, Spinto’s six members looked much like any of the folks standing next to us. The sight of a few average-looking guys in everyday threads playing some easygoing pop tunes and having a great time doing it added a great deal for effect—a contagious vibe that permeated the rest of the crowd and peaked as the group laid out last year’s mini-hit “Oh, Mandy.” In the time between Spinto’s last tune and just before The Whigs cranked their amps to 11 (or perhaps even 15), a whole lot of people showed up as we were transformed from free-range chickens to sardines in a tin. Hipsters were all of a sudden in short supply, and the Abercrombie & Fitch demographic became the overwhelming majority. From the very first chord of the very first song, it was borderline painful and apparent that The Whigs were going to be freaking loud. With their amps cranked to an almost (and eventually) punishing intensity, the Athens trio whizzed through a series of short, sweet and glossy Southern-pop garage-rock jams in rapid-fire succession to a room packed with people who knew every lyric and instantly recognized each tune by its intro. Singer/guitarist Parker Gispert put down his ax and stepped behind an electric piano for one particularly slower number where the bass notes were literally shaking us like the nearly extinct Polaroid picture. In fact, we weren’t the only ones feeling the quake. There were moments throughout the set when the floor itself was most definitely wobbling beneath us—not necessarily due to volume, but more likely the mighty crowd above stomping it into submission. After only about 45 minutes, The Whigs closed out the set with a hyperactive rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Get Off of My Cloud.” Judging by the crowd’s very vocal dissatisfaction with the band’s departure, an encore was inevitable—but we had to get the hell out while our ability to hear was still intact.
Send your Leap Day song in mp3 format to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more photos of Down and The Whigs, visit nashvillescene.com.
Less crying, more packing Ben. Good riddance.
"That’s all I got to say." - thats right piano boy time to move along
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