There is none higher
The Spin arrived at The 5 Spot last Tuesday night at 8:45 to find Those Darlins halfway through their set, playing to a not-quite-packed-but-pretty-full house of dudes sporting pompadours, horn-rimmed glasses, neck tattoos, mutton chops and bowling shirts, and chicks looking like either one or a combination of the following: Betty Boop, Bettie Page or Pussy Galore. All in all it looked like a casting call for John Waters' Cry-Baby. Throw in a couple dozen hipsters, some folks of age to collect Social Security and The Spin, and you've got yourself the Wanda Jackson fan club. A perfect audience for the Darlins' haunted Opry revivalism.
Next up were Steve Haggard, who bore an uncanny resemblance to Doc Brown, and his band—featuring notable guitar slinger Walter Egan—with a plodding set of country-rock standards that included a performance of "Me and Bobby McGee" that was truly uncalled for, almost as uncalled for as the dizzying amount of PDA going on in the crowd. Seriously, everywhere you looked there were couples necking like the bomb was about to drop.
After a brief intermission, Haggard and his band, who would be backing Mrs. Jackson, returned with a few more numbers before the "queen of rock" was introduced onto the stage, busting right out of the gate with the late-'50s classic "Mean Mean Man." The revival had begun. The crowd mobbed against the stage and showered the pint-sized Jackson—decked out in sparkles and big hair—with all the affection of appreciative grandchildren, eagerly salivating for a firsthand account of rock 'n' roll history.
And that is exactly what they got, as the show took on a bit of an anecdotal VH1 Storytellers format, with Jackson knocking out classic after classic, including her country/rock hybrid "I Gotta Know," her indelible rockabilly classics like "Hard-Headed Woman" and "Fujiyama" Mama," a gospel sing-along of "I Saw the Light" and a slew of Sun-era Elvis classics from her 2006 tribute album I Remember Elvis, among others. All were performed with the moxie of her youth, as if not a day had passed since the golden age of radio, her voice still cutting like a knife. Equally cutting was her wit, as she never ceased to keep the crowd in stitches with her whip-smart between-song bon mots.
In last week's interview with the Scene Jackson spoke with delight about how "twenty- and thirtysomethings are really into rockabilly and the '50s rock music. They're so much fun because they know all these songs, and it really is strange to see all these young faces and they're all singing along." It is for this reason that the show had a greater feeling of relevance than nostalgia. Most people there had never been to a real sock-hop before. As the youngsters drunkenly danced and shouted along to "There's a Riot Goin' On," that's what this show was. A uniquely touching convergence of Generation Y and the Greatest Generation ensued as the show came to a close, with smiles all around.
Workin' for the weekday
In this crazy, jam-packed nightlife calendar of ours, it's easy to get wrapped up and overly concerned with sold-out weekend events, consequently overlooking the lesser-known gems throughout the week. Wednesday night seemed both an unlikely evening and as good a time as any for Nashville's indie electronica scene to strut its stuff at Mercy Lounge.
We caught word that Music City's premier gadget-geek duo Jensen Sportag would be rocking their set simultaneously alongside futuristic beat master Makeup and Vanity Set, as well as the newest addition to the scene, Fly Golden Eagle. Given all three bands were playing at once, we indulged our tendency for tardiness, since there was no first band to miss this time. We rolled in about midset to find a surprisingly thriving mob of people dancing or at least bobbing their heads to a pulsating, glitched-out mess coming from the front. Closer inspection revealed each band set up in front of the stage, their gear seemingly strewn about the width of the floor with keys, buttons and flashing lights flickering with a giant screen looming overhead projecting an eyeful of oddities and rapid-fire visuals.
The bands traded turns in the spotlight. The transitions weren't always seamless, but default emcee Austin Wilkinson managed to keep things rolling with some lighthearted banter. He and the other half of Sportag, Elvis Craig, kept it cool and laid-back while delivering all their best-known crooning club jams. Makeup and Vanity Set's Matt Pusti counteracted Sportag's chill-but-groovy vibe with sputtering, bombastic beats and intricate sequences of bass and synths.
Freshest to our ears were newcomers Fly Golden Eagle. Clad in all black, sporting sunglasses on an already darkened stage, the trio resembled a hybrid of '80s German hipsters and Mike Myers' SNL sketch "Sprockets." Their upbeat, guitar-laden synth pop with a clanging 4/4 beat mixed the melodic blips of Kraftwerk and early Depeche Mode with a modernized rock vibe à la Ghostland Observatory. The ordeal wasn't a mind-blowing experience, but it was more than enough to hold us over 'til the weekend.
5 minus unity = 4
It was obvious by the number of text messages, calls and emails received by The Spin throughout the day Saturday that the secret of a potential Pavement reunion show going down at The 5 Spot was out. The long-defunct band's percussionist and mascot Bob Nastanovich was married in Nashville and a wedding party—open to the public and billed on The 5 Spot's MySpace page as "Secret Show"—was scheduled at the East Nashville haunt. With four of five Pavement band members (all but Scott Kannberg) expected to attend, speculation inevitably turned to the possibility of an unrehearsed impromptu reunion.
As early as 8:30, Nashville's scenesters began pouring into the club, giving Stop Gap what must have been one of their largest crowds in recent memory. As a feeling of collective suspense grew more and more palpable, it became increasingly apparent that the expectation of an honest-to-God Pavement reunion was quickly blowin' way out of proportion, as the room was abuzz with talk of a "great show with historic importance." We weren't so sure. The show did turn out to be great, just not quite in the way we had hoped.
For two hours, we waited in anticipation as the crowd metastasized well beyond capacity, much to the chagrin of the arriving wedding guests. As the unwieldy crowd smashed us against someone in a tuxedo, we explained that word had reached the street about a possible Pavement reunion. "Well, they're in the building," the bemused reveler said. Silver Jew David Berman was among those who took a bewildered look at the seething masses and thought better of it, cutting out early.
A little after 11 p.m., the party finally got started with the house band of the evening Tim Chad and Sherry. The band—featuring Silver Jews alumni William Tyler and Brian Kotzur—entertained all 250 or so of us with badass renditions of wedding staples like "Proud Mary," "Bennie and the Jets" and a rendition of "What a Fool Believes" that we couldn't help think was directed at all of us gawkers who were clogging up the place. As we watched Bob Nastanovich dance with his new bride to a second consecutive performance of "Soft Country," a sense of guilt—telling us that this wasn't our party—began to wash over us. We were committing a flagrant act of social voyeurism. Our bad.
Of course, we weren't alone. Just the presence of former Pavement frontguy Stephen Malkmus, who sat just to the left of the stage for much of the evening, inspired enough conspiratorial glances from fellow interlopers to last us a good long while. It was just as we spotted his bandmates Mark Ibold and Steve West that Malkmus took to the stage, at last providing some sort of payoff for those hoping to brag to their friends the next day. The payoff came in the form of Malkmus, effortlessly charming as ever, leading the crowd through ramshackle sing-alongs of Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love" and The O' Jays' "Love Train." Seeing the Teflon Don of indie cred briefly moonlighting as a wedding singer (in a monogrammed dress shirt, no less) was hilariously surreal, and by the time the band started into Marble Valley's "FCC Party," Malkmus, Ibold, West and Nastanovich were all onstage, along with a dozen or so other party guests.
And that would be the closest thing to a Pavement reunion we would get on this night. Those who were disappointed by what they saw—or didn't see—probably shouldn't have even been there in the first place, and neither should we. So that's what we get for blowing up the (5) Spot. (Sorry, Bob & Co.) That said, we got wasted with 200 of our closest friends and a bunch of people who had no idea what the fuck we were doing at their reception, inadvertently making for one of the best parties of this young year.
So, did you hear about that thing that might...ah, fuck it. Nevermind. Just email 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