The Spin 

Apparently nothing bridges the generation gap quite like a good old-fashioned punk rock show.

Sweaty men with hairy backsGiven the amount of buzz circulating around town before the Monotonix show Saturday night, we were a little miffed to find a mostly empty Springwater for openers The Frolics’ 10:30 p.m. set. The trio’s simple, quasi-surf pop would’ve have remained interesting had their set been a bit shorter, and the dirty looks exchanged between the bass player and guitarist made for some uncomfortable spectating. But the horniness didn’t stop there—a ragtag ensemble known as Hawkfish took the stage next. Borrowing a couple members from Tim Chad and Sherry’s band and featuring Monotonix singer Ami Shalev on drums, the band itself was secondary to what mostly amounted to a stand-up comedy routine by the two frontmen. The two advertised their sponsor, Paula Abdul’s Booty Wash, begged for crack money, demonstrated fellatio on a grapefruit and writhed on the floor while caterwauling “I’m gonna give it to ya.” In a word, it was dirty. Almost immediately, Tim Chad and Sherry continued the party theme of the night. Backed by an ensemble of familiar locals, the band was far more than the trio implied nominally and much more fun—not to mention that the drummer is totally the singer. By the time it was the Tel Aviv trio’s turn, the audience was spilling out of the bar and onto the back patio. Rather than spend much time soundchecking, Monotonix were rather dubiously dousing things with lighter fluid. A couple of flaming drumsticks and cymbals marked the beginning of a set that never got less ridiculous. Throughout their maniacal boogie woogie, frontman Shalev spent less time on the floor than he did standing on amps, tables, bars and people—even going so far as to drop his pants and try, it appeared, to capture a fart into the microphone. After shoving the mic into his ass, it went right back in his mouth—gross, dude. Every couple of songs would find the band setting up in a different part of the room, and not even a blown amp after the first song could stop the trio from resorting to more antics than we could ever possibly hope to recount. Although the performance took precedence over the tunes, the jams were in no way lacking—mixing gritty blues licks and punk with a reckless abandon that threatened to derail the whole thing. But even if you hated the racket they were making, you could forgive them because of the fun you were having. Naturally, the show ended with a drum circle in the parking lot. Best. Show. Ever.

More songs of pain

The move from The Cannery Ballroom to The Mercy Lounge was an early indication that fewer documentary film enthusiasts would be attending Wednesday night’s Daniel Johnston performance than were at last summer’s sweaty Exit/In sellout. After holding court on the back deck with our lieutenants of sin, alcohol and nicotine, it was time to head inside for Brooklyn’s Hymns, a power-pop quartet whose post-Strokes heroin-chic phantasm seemed to come straight out of Williamsburg central casting, complete with obligatory tight black pants, thrift store T-shirts and haircuts that can only be referred to as the “hipster mullet.” (Just Google “Keith Richards” and “1972” for images if you’re lost.) Musically, just imagine King’s of Leon’s alt-country throwback jangle coupled with some Gram Parsons’ vocal worship. The crowd, a hodgepodge of local musicians, record store clerks, Ghost World stand-ins and grown men who organize their comic book collections and Shaggs records by candlelight, was less notable for who was there than for who wasn’t. It appeared by the numbers that most local curiosities regarding Johnston were fulfilled last August, although that didn’t seem to hamper the excitement of those in attendance, who crowded the stage in anticipation of their man with the broken mind. “Still here?” said Johnston as he came out and started his set with “Mean Girls Give Pleasure,” his shaky vibrato in its finest form. Delicate versions of “Life in Vain,” “ Silly Love” and The Beatles’ “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” followed. He gripped the mic stand with both arms uncontrollably shaking, his audience hanging on his every lyric and every note, showering the man with cheers and adoration whenever he appeared to need the encouragement. The tone of the evening then turned from a quiet affair to a raucous sock-hop as Johnston, now clearly enjoying himself, brought out The Hymns to back him through a set of rockers including “Love Wheel,” “Speeding Motorcycle” and the inevitable “Walking the Cow” before closing with a solo encore of “True Love Will Find You in the End.”

Paper trailBy default, CD release shows aren’t usually a hard sell. Such was the case last Saturday at The Rutledge when Paper Rival, finishing up the first leg of a tour behind their debut Dialog, played to a packed house of friends and familiar faces. Backed by other up-and-coming local acts Sleeptalker and Tommy and the Whale, the five-piece guest of honor nevertheless showed very few signs of wear, just as enthused to perform for a familiar crowd of 100 as the 1,000 they could likely draw as time goes on. Lead vocalist Jake Rolleston donned an ironic Garth Brooks tour T-shirt as he growled in energetic fits into the mic, taking his bandmates brief guitar-thrash interludes to slap a nearby xylophone or shake off his sweat like a soaked dog. It’s not that Paper Rival are doing anything particularly mind-blowing, really. Had you thrown a rock down any D.C. alley in the late ’90s, you’d hit a Marshall stack blaring much the same crunchy guitar riffs and alternative touchstones that once kept your Walkman drained of batteries and ears ringing. But so few club-rat outfits have congealed as organically as Paper Rival, yet still maintained their loose, graveled edge.

Out come the, uh, wolves

Apparently nothing bridges the generation gap quite like a good old-fashioned punk rock show. Nineties MTV punk-revival faves Rancid put in an appearance at Music City’s premier all-ages club Rcktwn to a packed crowd that was, oddly enough, all ages. First on stage were local punkabillies Hillbilly Casino, who gave us pretty much what we expected from a band of this genre: revved up train track beats, clackity-clack upright bass, distorted blues riffs and the first frontman we’ve seen work the act of combing his hair into his best stage move. It wasn’t until after the first act that we noticed a substantial influx of patrons. Boys, girls, moms, dads and other punks of all ages were filling in for some good clean fun. Next up was yet another punkabilly act—this time the local Legendary Shack*Shakers. With a frontman who invoked a harmonica-shredding incarnation of Iggy Pop, the Shack*Shakers rocked the same formula that preceded them, but with a hell of a lot more evil that was much appreciated—perhaps in part due to guitarist Duane Denison (Tomahawk, Jesus Lizard) who was playing his first show with the band. At one point, frontman J.D. Wilkes opened his pants and gave the crowd more than they bargained for—a warrant for his arrest would later be issued. By the time Rancid stepped onstage, the crowd was wall to wall, chanting the band’s name in anticipation. In true economic punk-rock fashion, the boys ripped through as many songs as possible from their 15-year-old catalog in about an hour, with little banter in between. Despite having a new record that drops in September, Rancid made the wise choice not to sacrifice the sing-along momentum and delivered blow after blow of classic favorites that ignore every musical trend since the late ’70s, combining an early Clash vibe with hardcore punk and ska. They did grace us with a singular encore—Wolves “Time Bomb”—before saying goodnight for good, as a seemingly gapless set of generations reluctantly called it a night.

Please send a coherent argument about why train track beats and distorted blues riffs are negative descriptions to thespin@nashvillescene.com.

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