Sure, The Basement is by no stretch a big hall, but when a Nashville band (by way of Murfreesboro!) can pack the place out by offering tickets to pre-order album buyers alone, it’s an impressive feat. Still, once we made our way inside the club it just felt like any old Saturday night at The Basement. A line for the bar was bottle-necking with familiar faces, and the outside patio was thick with cigarette smoke and idle conversation. The Spin, although on time, was already a bit buzzed from some evening pre-game activities.
Here’s what we can cobble together from our fractured memory: Denney and the Jets turned in, for the second week in a row, a shambolic set of acoustic-driven, but still driving, hedonistic bar rockers that were a tinge more folk-y than punk-y, at least in light of their bygone days as Daniel Pujol’s backing band, and made for a welcome Darlins warm up as we sipped and sauntered through the club.
With D. Watusi next on the bill, we couldn’t help but feel a hint of a déjà vu after indulging in last week’s Freakin’ Weekend festivities. But really, isn’t every weekend a freak-end with these kids at the helm of youthful Nashville night life? That said, it seemed like many in the crowd — especially the Darlins die-hards who we’d later see singing along to songs new and old — were exposing themselves to the band’s fresh-faced take on their Nuggets-ready garage-edelia for the first time, and liking it.
Once it was time for the main event, we were feeling pretty loose, and by its finish we were totally screwed up — lost in a blurry haze of sinful songs and spirits. But really, isn’t that how a Darlins show is supposed to leave you feeling? Like you were kidnapped by a Go-Gos cover band from the hills, taken to a land beyond the grave, force-fed moonshine and Carter Family records, then given a ride a home in a locomotive … or something.
Indeed, Those Darlins have always been an intoxicating band. And throughout a raucous set largely dominated by fresh tracks from their forthcoming sophomore effort, Screws Get Loose — for which this show was a celebration — the band sounded and looked more confident than ever, clear as day (even if our consciousness wasn’t) during songs like Screws’ title track, and the fast-paced, relentlessly infectious pop romp “Hives.”
If what we saw and heard Saturday night was any indication, the band is poised to far exceed the promise of their deservedly hyped debut with this follow-up, further finding their feet and carving out their identity as Tennessee’s finest export of warped country weepers, hard-rockin’ hoe-downs and all-around Southern gothic garage rock — with moxie, sass and death-stares to boot. With a large contingent of both hardcore fans and friends alike on hand, the band didn’t shy away from playing non-Screws favorites like the saloon-ready “Wild One” and utterly hilarious one-off single “Night Jogger.”