We have to admit it was hard as hell to tear ourselves away from the Cats 101 marathon on Animal Planet and cart our asses down to 12th & Porter Saturday night for the weekly Coach vs. Kase dance party. We had eaten twice our body weight in turkey and chocolate over the previous 48 hours, it was colder than a snowman's snow-balls outside and despite our desire to get more exercise than just walking back and forth between the couch and the fridge, we just couldn't rally a whole lot of energy. All of our Christmas cheer had been exhausted by our creepy, fundamentalist in-laws on Thursday night, and we were just ready to hide out until springtime--but we decided to put on our dancing shoes and call a cab.
By the time we got to the club we were pretty jazzed, though, as our cab ride mostly consisted of a long conversation with our cabbie about Fela Kuti, and whether Femi Kuti or Ziggy Marley makes a better heir to a musical empire. It's random explosions of musical nerd-dom like this, in unexpected places at unexpected times, that remind us why we love this city. Our driver laughed when we mentioned King Sunny Ade, because that was his grandparents' music, and we got a very detailed remembrance of Kuti's funeral. The Spin got pwned, and it ruled--nothin' like a little musical education to kick off your Saturday night.
There was still some active-rock nonsense in the main room when we rolled into the club--some Deftone-looking douchetards rawking hard for a room of 15, maybe 20 people--so we rolled back to the lounge, where a crowd had gathered around the soothing, organ-rattling sounds of dubstep. How one actually dances to dubstep seems to be a matter of disagreement, with a third of the crowd standing still nodding their heads, another third doing a half-time Bongzilla stomp and the final third throwing down Glee-inspired triple-time kick-steps and jazz hands. Despite the lack of a uniform dance style it was clear to see that the good people of the Nashville electronic underground love themselves some dubstep. Even early on in the night, when the mixes were inconsistent and the track selection less than bangin', kids were loving it. By the time Dailon and Dex--two top-flight new-to-us DJs that just jumped to the top of our "ones to watch" list--were on the ones and twos the room was packed and the kids were going apeshit. Proof that this town has an unquenchable thirst for the wobble bass--which is awesome because we love it too.
We were standing at the bar when the man of the hour, Justin Kase, arrived. The last time we saw Kase he was running to catch a plane at quarter to six in the morning so he could join rising pop star Ke$ha (pronounced Keh-dollar-sign-HA!) on tour in New York. At the time, the Brentwood-bred, L.A.-based Ke$ha had just entered Billboard's Hot 100 with her irresistibly trashy single "Tik Tok" (you know, the one that starts with, "I woke up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy") and had hired Justin to be her road DJ. By the time we got to talk to Justin again, Ke$ha was sitting at No. 2 on the big chart-- held from the top spot by Jay-Z's unstoppable juggernaut "Empire State of Mind"--and Kase had already been on MTV, all across Europe and all over the continental United States. In the six weeks since we'd seen him, he'd gone from our friendly neighborhood disc jockey to jet-settin' professional musician, and we couldn't have been prouder.
See, even though The Spin has a reputation for being, uh, "unsupportive" of Nashville artists that see monumental success outside of the 615, we are 100 percent into Ke$ha. Sure, she moved to the West Coast like five years ago, but she's not shy about her Music City roots, and we're not shy about our affection for her raunchy, ribald dance pop. Hell, she cites How I Became the Bomb and Verde as influences on her MySpace page, and has a video from Christmas Eve '07 at Springwater posted too. Not only is she from here, she's one of us--seriously, that Springwater video is painful, if only because it's so familiar--and it's nice to see Music City's Middle-American sleaze scene make its way to the top of the charts. Also, Ke$ha once puked in Paris Hilton's closet--a personal dream of ours, but one that has sadly only been fulfilled by proxy. Oh, and did we mention that she makes some seriously degenerate pop? Like, the kind that'll horrify your parents with its awesomely amoral lyrics? Yes, we're sure we did, but we can't drive home the point enough--most of this city's "sleazy" garage rockers could take lessons in lascivious living from this lady.
So, yeah, Ke$ha's our favorite new pop star, a happy middle ground between Britney Spears and G.G. Allin, or Lady Gaga if she were less inclined to wear underwear on her head and more inclined to shiv a motherfucker. Let's just say it's a shared proclivity for the nightlife and the lowlife that makes us so fond of Ke$ha's work. Plus, she jacked the "place in France where the naked ladies dance" melody for "Take It Off"--a prurient, juvenile move we wish we had thought of first. We're also pretty sure she hit us in the head when she fell off the 12th & Porter stage a few weeks ago. She was what the kids call "rock star wasted," and she's Justin Kase's boss. Awesome.
Even though Kase is one of our favorite platter pushers in town and we'll miss having him around--the one-two punch of his tag-team sets with Jeremy "Coach" Todd will probably become the stuff of legend--we have the distinct feeling that he's just the first in a potentially long line of Nashville electronic artists who will be moving up to the big leagues. This past year saw Nashville's electronic scene solidify with an up-tick in up-and-coming out-of-towners stopping by, more permanent weekly parties and one-offs and more people showing up to support. The talent has always been there, but now the audience is, too, and that encourages outsiders to pay attention.
The idea of Nashville and electronic dance music might still be a punch line in most of the world, but for those who spend an inordinate amount of time following, it's evident that this is a scene on the verge of something greater. Mainstream music took finally notice of Nashville's non-country sounds this year--Paramore, Taylor Swift and Kings of Leon all had serious chart presence over the last 52 weeks--so it only makes sense that the underground will start noticing us sooner rather than later. But that could've been the booze talking. It's easy to spout philosophical bullshit when your legs are like jelly, your pits smell like hippie and your brain is still filled boom-chik-boom-chik. Of course, this year has seen those sorts of nights pile up, so we're thinking it just might be true this time.