PUJOL — who recently parted with its bassist and lead guitarist — led the night off, and The Spin stood front and center as the guys (now a three-piece) launched into a hitch-free “Keeper of Atlantis.” The band signed off with that slick li'l dune buggy of a jam “Black Rabbit,” sans the dual wailing (a la “Boys Are Back in Town”) during the outro. Sigh.
The Clutters tuned up next and tore through three fiery and graceful numbers — one of which was that cowbell jam from their forthcoming Breaking Bones. It was a raucous mix of leader Doug Lehmann’s id and a chugging, erratic sense of rhythm seemingly taught in a Pixies’ math course. Ever faithful in our marriage to the local rock scene, The Spin was pulling for The Clutters pretty sincerely — they're a veritable Nashville mainstay.
Speaking of matrimony, Action! — comprised of a female singer/guitarist and male drummer — were celebrating their two-year wedding anniversary and donned their ceremonial garb for the set’s entirety. Their tinny guitar mixed with bare but bombastic (and impeccably controlled) drumming had The Spin (whilst squatting so that others might see) in a trance. Hints of Breeders and Stereolab filled the air during the couple’s harmonies — the male half of the pair taking the higher parts — which lingered as another duo, Tallest Trees, set up their bells and whistles.
By subjecting the audience to a six-minute mixture of feedback and live transmissions from NASA’s moon landing, Tallest Trees reminded The Spin that A) those astronauts busted their asses in school, and B) RTB requires concision. By the time Tallest Trees' drummer kicked in, their set had nearly expired. That said, The Spin does not deny TT the woozy jam they created — Animal Collective-y though it might have been.
After Uncle Skeleton assembled their 12-piece band — six of those pieces being strings — the group launched into some very jazzy and eccentric numbers of the same ilk (discourteous but genius) as Frank Zappa. They were repetitive and distant at times (like brainy background music with pleasant electronic flourishes), but The Spin would definitely pay to see U.S. again, as they pulled off one of the more masterful sets.
Though a bit generic, Kingston Springs at least brought the rawk to Mercy Lounge's stage, and The Spin easily familiarized itself with their brazen rhythm section (a la Secret Machines or Aughts-era Flaming Lips) while also taking a liking to the singer’s voice — not unlike The Features’ Matt Pelham crossed with a bit of Karen O. The Spin commends their straightforwardness, and might be even a little jealous of the future frat parties these guys could bulldoze if they wanted.
The Spin had never heard of Cherub, and the male duo solidified their identity as imports once they launched into a set of throbbing electronic, begging the question: What instruments are these guys playing? To their credit, speckles of guitar were played manually, and their sound, though trashy, was au courant in a greasy way. Cherub also wins the award for making the biggest Oh-face. So greasy.
Sarah Silva closed 2011 RTB III with a proficient — however melismatic — set of piano-based rock. Though you won't find any Silva spinning on The Spin's turntable anytime soon, her set was relatively original — despite how much The Spin enjoyed pretending we were watching Pat Benatar.
In the end, Uncle Skeleton wooed the voters and judges, and will thusly be lugging their countless instruments to Manchester this summer.