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"I wrote that song when I was 21 and I thought the world was shit. Now I'm 53, I know the world is shit." So said TV Smith of first-wave punk band The Adverts, introducing one of his old band's songs. He was following up a tight, crowd-pleasing set by JEFF the Brotherhood, and a large group of young punks had gathered in front of The End's stage to hear him play.
The enviably slender Smith, wearing bleach-spattered black jeans and Doc Martens, was performing a solo acoustic set that prefaced the Jay Reatard show. He played old songs, including "New Church" and "The Great British Mistake," alternating with newer ones like "You Saved My Life, Then Ruined It." Smith writes high-speed pop songs with political lyrics that take on issues like war and class difference; they're not subtle, but the ceaseless momentum and bouncy energy with which he plays them keeps the audience interested. "It's Expensive Being Poor" took on a fact we know all too well, and his final song, "We're in the Arms of Our Enemies," included a whistle solo.
"What's up with all these fucking backpacks?" objected our companion, as concert attendees crowded in to see the main act. Indeed, Nashville: If you're going to go to shows, take off your fucking backpacks and get comfortable. Shortly thereafter, Reatard's three-piece band, with Jay and bassist Stephen Pope on Flying V's, launched wordlessly into their set, with "Blood Visions."
The band was impossibly tight, playing familiar songs at an exhilarating pace, and pausing only for Reatard's barely intelligible announcements of song titles. The band played songs from the past three years, including "I See You Standing There," "Fading All Away," Greed, Money, Useless Childre," and "See/Saw," as well as some from the new album that we hadn't heard before. Reatard switched at one point to acoustic guitar to play "I'm Watching You," and closed with "Wait Here, Wait for You."
A brief pause in the action indicated something was about to happen; as Smith joined the band on stage, Billy Hayes pounded out a drumbeat that turned into "Gary Gilmore's Eyes." What followed was a short set of Adverts songs, with Reatard's band backing up Smith. They sped through "Bored Teenagers" and "We Who Wait," closing the set with "One Chord Wonders." We would have enjoyed an encore, but the club's PA coming on indicated it wasn't going to happen. It was 12:30, and time to adjourn to the Gold Rush.