Dawgy styleWe arrived at The 5 Spot around 10 p.m. Thursday night thinking we’d be late—the bill had a 9 p.m. start time and a lineup featuring Corndawg (solo) w/Alcohol Stuntband, Caitlin Rose and Spiritual Family Reunion. At least the bill got the performers right. Upon entrance we were surprised to see Caitlin Rose, Chris Crofton, Johnny Corndawg and Patty LeMay cruising the sparse, reserved crowd—they were running late. The after-work, cocktail-hour atmosphere did little to energize the performers, and the talent of openers LeMay and Rose seemed lost on the preoccupied and unenthusiastic crowd. Maybe the booze was beginning to set in with that third glass of whiskey, or that ﬁfth PBR was wrestling with intellect, but when Johnny Corndawg took the stage, the crowd woke up. This Virginia-born, now Philadelphian made Nashville seem like his home. The bulk of his set consisted of originals from his 2007 release, I’m Not Ready to Be a Daddy, but his electric delivery and crowd-pleasing mannerisms made his songs seem like covers. Sporting a shirt that could have doubled as a hunting vest and an in-your-face Chevy belt buckle, Corndawg was an eyesore of the best kind—if there is such a thing. Songwriting and vocal ability aside, his appeal was solidiﬁed by his uniquely vintage guitar sound—jangled ﬁngerpicking coupled with a lo-ﬁ guitar pickup that produced a sound like a 45 played through a small-speaker. Tracks such as “Shut Up” were driven by call-and-response crowd participation. That was literally all there was to it—just a simple “shut up” from Corndawg, followed by a rousing “shut up” from the audience. The fact that some of his lyrics bordered on stand-up comedy only aided his likability. Take “Family Tree,” whose lyrics were, “I got a crush on you / And my balls are turning blue / Tell me darling can you feel it too? / I love you in the ﬁrst degree / So let’s start a family tree / Let’s do something we’re going to regret.” No euphemisms here, just good old-fashioned witticisms, which continued for the rest of his set.
Snake pitWhile Sea Wolf served up somber modern rock on the west side, The 5 Spot was housing a showcase of old-school rock ’n’ roll east of the river. We walked in to ﬁnd a scantly populated crowd enjoying the ﬁrst song of openers Losers Beat Winners, who kicked things off with a contemporary outlaw-style country number. Then the Gen X trio quickly shifted gears: For the rest of their set, they played classic melodic pop-punk straight from the school of Hüsker Dü, cramming as many tunes as possible into their 40-minute set by stringing each together with no pauses between. Next, veteran locals Pale Blue Dot dished out half an hour of seasoned ’60s garage-pop with jangly guitars, bluesy riffs and Brit Invasion melodies that were well received by the folks who were then just trickling in. Cramming even more entertainment onto the bill, Latino punkers Monsters on Television ﬁlled the third of four slots. Fronted by a large man known only as “Sunﬂower,” who’s typically seen sporting an executioner’s hood and playing bass in The Mattoid, the trio showed they had a knack for easygoing melodies and lyrically driven, mid-tempo punk songs that were sometimes visceral and other times just snotty and offensive. By the time they ﬁnished, 50 or so eager, drunken fans were eagerly awaiting the start of the main attraction—a sentiment they collectively expressed by chanting “Totally Snake! Totally Snake!” in unison until the band’s massive personnel were collected and ready to play. Totally Snake’s appeal is a shallow but tenacious one, and has garnered a formidable cult following that was well represented that night. Sporting four guitarists, two bassists, one drummer, an accordion and one to three extra folks onstage at all times, Totally Snake is apparently giving the people—some people, anyway—exactly what they want: over-the-top, down-and-dirty, glitter-tinged rock with explicitly forward lyrics about alcohol, sex, drugs and as many sexual innuendos involving snakes as possible. Each tune featured simple, unvarying refrains sung usually by all 12 or so members simultaneously, advocating the acts of getting drunk, high and laid with every verse, and featuring the words “totally snake” at least four or ﬁve times per song. The band invited more and more people up as the show went on, and by the end of their set there were literally more people onstage than in the audience. It seemed appropriate, given that Totally Snake seems to exist just as much as fun for their fans’ sake as their own—and probably very few reasons aside from that.
Funeral partyWe love the Springwater. Even on a drizzly, slow Memorial Day, this Nashville institution proves to be chock-full of creepy old boozehounds and shifty regulars who have been heckling some pretty impressive acts for decades. Monday was the last in a series of shows for Nite Nite as Springwater’s resident band for the month of May. Somber folk troubadours Lylas opened as a trio, though they typically perform as a quartet. Lead singer Kyle Hamlett alternated between baritone ukulele and banjo. Their sober, delicate stylings and a playful rendition of the childhood favorite “Hearse Song” inspired us to coin the phrase “funeral folk.” Elle Long was up next with her lilting, cutie-pie act Hop-Scotch Mountain. Long was accompanied by Eric Williams of Lone Ofﬁcial and Character, and their set was brief but engaging. Long’s vocals were heartfelt and charming, but they didn’t exactly get the Springwater’s meager crowd dancing. The show switched gears when the Morrissey-injected feel-good rockabilly troupe Stories That Live took the stage. Lead singer Brock Lee’s half-drunken antics were a welcome change of pace, and the boys were tight in a way that just hinted at sloppiness. Though Lee encouraged us to “go on home…or whatever,” we decided to give Nite Nite a chance. The co-ed crew was sheepish-looking and clad in black, but we assumed their semi-Gothic aesthetics were merely incidental. Turns out we were wrong. Their synth-heavy droning hooks and driving beats fell somewhere between Joy Division and The Faint. Nite Nite certainly provided an interesting take on post-punk, but unfortunately their set was performed to a pretty empty house. After a handful of songs we ﬁnally headed home, our Memorial Day hunger sated.
Please send a list of your favorite shifty Springwater regulars to email@example.com.
Guys it's because he's black.
Damn good band. Wish they'd release that mashup as an mp3 or something, it's cool.
Chuck Mead is one Nashville's top 10 treasures. BR-549's performances at Robert's were a key…
The is getting better each year---really cool and unique