We're not exactly sure when it happened, but some time over the past couple years, rock o'clock moved from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Everywhere, that is, except at Exit/In, where shows still start promptly at 9 on the dot--even on a Friday night. So, we missed about half of openers Eastern Block. (Initially, we misread the lineup and thought that Japanese emo-rockers Eastern Youth were on the bill. What a let-down.) Eastern Block have changed little in the year or so since we last saw them--they still sound like Interpol and Franz Ferdinand. Which would be cool if it were 2004. Thankfully, their lead singer manages to avoid Interpol singer Paul Banks' biggest transgression--shamelessly aping Ian Curtis. Eastern Block > Interpol. Still, what they do is pretty five years ago. Perhaps they have it in 'em to become the next AutoVaughn.
By the time local alterna-faves And The Relatives hit the stage, the crowd had swelled to about 100. Many of these were unfamiliar faces for an intimate indie-rock show such as this, so we could only assume they were Vandy kids and/or Flaming Lips fans who had come to indulge their curiosity. More on that later. With a $10 cover, it's no surprise that many fans of the local acts on the bill decided to skip this one. Also, there is a reason why And The Relatives don't sell out every show they play in Nashville: People in this town are stupid.
It seems as though if you're an indie-rawk band in Middle Tennessee and your name doesn't rhyme with "creatures" then it's impossible to inspire a just amount of love on the reg. And boy is there a lot to love about ATR. Their songs are infectiously catchy--and we mean like catchier than "Sex on Fire" catchy--and in guitarist/singer Andrew Brassell they have Nashville's closest thing to J. Mascis. Round this out with ace bassist Eli Beaird and consummate time-keeper (and Scene staffer) Patrick Rodgers and you have the trifecta of musical virtuosity that powers feel-good slack-rockers like "Animals," "Cowboy Jazz"--one of this town's finest anthems--and the merciless assault of revved up rock 'n' roll that is "Regal Son." As an added bonus the band featured the ever-fantastic Caitlin Rose doing her best Stevie Nicks on back-up vox and tambourine for about half of the set.
So we'll just get it out of the way: Stardeath and White Dwarfs' singer is the nephew of Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne and he--along with the rest of the band--spent years on the road as the Lips' road crew before eventually graduating to opening act status and securing a major label deal. We'd love nothing more than to completely ignore the association and judge the band purely on their own merits, but given the multitude of similarities it's just impossible not to be constantly reminded of them. Luckily for band and audience alike, they're pretty damn good at perpetuating the Lips' brand of modern psychedelia. The Flaming Lips famously cover Black Sabbath's "War Pigs." Stardeath opened with a cover of "Sweat Leaf." The Flaming Lips have a myriad of stunning onstage visuals. Stardeath had rave-worthy L.E.D. and strobe lights that were an obvious hazard to any epileptics who might have been in the crowd.
Musically, Stardeath stick to more dark and abrasive territory than their Oklahoma City predecessors. Even a cover of Madonna's "Borderline" was ominous, creepy and beautifully off-putting. We really dug it. It was apparent that the rest of the crowd dug it as well, as they packed tightly against the front of the stage for the duration of the show, which unfortunately wasn't very long--only about 40 minutes, including a rootsy psychedelic freak-out at show's end that was more along the lines of Neil Young and Crazy Horse than it was the Flaming Lips. The show was over before midnight, giving us plenty of time to systematically execute our brain cells over at the Gold Rush.