The undeniably pleasant pre-summertime vibes were floating loose and free about the Rock Block on Thursday night. There were only three bands slated to play Harlem’s show at The End — each known for performing sets under 30 minutes — so the bands and venue representatives were taking a characteristically leisurely approach when The Spin arrived around 10 p.m. Everyone was shit-shooting and concealed-drinking out on Elliston, and there we ran into some Turbo Fruits — who are about to embark on yet another tour, this time across Europe — and some JEFF the Brotherhoods. A member of one of the aforementioned bands told us about a private show sponsored by a certain sneaker company that was to take place at a certain local venue the following night. We really can’t say any more than that, but it sounds like it’s going to be pretty alright.
Things kicked off shortly after 10 with a set from Cy Barkley, Infinity Cat’s answer to Bobby Bare Jr. — certainly not sonically; just physically. Dude looks a lot like a 22-year-old Bare Jr. As always, Barkley and his rhythm section proved to be diligent scholars of Punk Rock 101, doling out two-minute, three-chord gems complete with barre-chord mastery, Misfits-styled progressions and just the sort of posturing you hope to find within an 18-minute set of coarse barking and tight, hard-edged instrumentation. In total mildly political punk-rock fashion, Barkley even mentioned something about how he’s encountered some non-Nashvillians strolling into town post-Flood and looking for handouts. “That’s not fucking punk,” quoth Barkley. “I’m fucking punk.”
Up next were Heavy Cream, Infinity Cat’s answer to The Runaways — not just sonically, but physically, sort of. Those babes (and dude) have most definitely tightened up since we last caught them a couple months back, though their M.O. hasn’t changed much: quick, straightforward, Ramones-y numbers with plenty of bopping energy and little pretense. They’ve got this one thing they do, and if you can get into it, you’re going to enjoy yourself for 20 minutes.
Harlem brought along a roughly 26-inch monster of a kick drum, which turned out to have a mind of its own. That big bastard slid across the stage through the duration of their set, which was full of surfy licks, West Coast-style hooky choruses and instrument swapping. Harlem’s debut, Hippies, is perfectly satisfactory garage-punk, and it’s got the melodies to make it worthwhile. The crowd — composed mostly of jean-short-sporting, nubile whippersnappers, as it happens — actually thinned out a little during Harlem’s set, leaving the place maybe half-full by their last number. Anyhow, we were satisfied to see a show that was executed with such punk-rock efficiency. Three bands. Three sets. Two hours. Four beers. Plenty of buds. Done around midnight. We’ve seen worse Thursday nights. We just hope Harlem found a place to sleep; last we saw, they were looking for a mansion in which to stay. "We like jet tubs," they implored. "Just come see us at the merch table, and we'll stay with whoever has the best mansion."