Garage against the machine: The Ettes. Photo by Tanya Wright.
We arrived at the Mercy Lounge in time to see featured act The Ettes, but too late to catch the two opening bands. Like intrepid journalists, we asked around about what we had missed. Mercy Lounge manager John Bruton gave a positive review of Atlanta's Gringo Star (photos here), comparing their sound to that of The Kinks, circa 1966. And one member of Shoot the Mountain (photos here) declared his group's stage presence such that it "makes you wanna marry the bass player."
Well, now we wish we had seen it. We spotted Nashville's greatest funk DJ, Doyle Davis in attendance, and when The Ettes started their set, the moderately sized crowd was attentive to the band's aggressive, fuzzed-out garage rock and even went so far as to tap their feet and nod their heads enthusiastically. But only one dancing couple dared go farther. In their case, spirited dancing soon led to making out, but we've always said that's one of the dangers of garage rock.
The Ettes did their best to create an atmosphere conducive to necking. In songs like "Reputation" and "It Ain't You," lead singer Coco Hames delivered garage-y come-ons and put-downs in a soulful, slightly bored voice. Rounded out by bassist Jem Cohen and drummer Poni Silver, the band created an overpoweringly loud sound, with three-chord songs reminiscent of Nuggets-era rock. The band's fashions style reinforced their interest in '60s beat music; wearing a black and white striped shirt and heavy black eyeliner, Coco resembled Jean Seberg in Breathless, and Jem looked mod in a check shirt and Beatle boots.
Perhaps the crowd would have been bigger had a segment of Nashville's trendy young people not been at the Left Can Dance party at The End. Shortly after The Ettes finished their set, folks at the Mercy Lounge were preparing to make the trip across town. (An impromptu Thin Lizzy dance party that The Spin took part in didn't really catch on.) But whenever the Ettes take the stage again, we'll be there.