Seeing a full slate of bands at The End can sometimes feel like completing a marathon ... that is, if a marathon included beer drinking, cigarette smoking and conversation with Sound Guy Brad. So when we signed up for the task of Spinning Friday night's Spits show — which included three local bands, the headliners and their touring support — we knew this wasn't going to be a quick in-and-out jog. This was gonna be a five-band punk-rock endurance challenge for which we would have to do plenty of stretching and hydrating before hand.
Our arrival was perfectly timed. The guy at the door said that the first band, Hans Condor, was playing their first song. We immediately noticed that frontman Charles Condor had already broken a string on his tri-pickup SG knock-off. It ain't a party until something gets broke, and Hans Condor kicked things off right. Just as we were enjoying their Stooges-inspired jams — and thinking about how they reminded us of turn-of-the-century local rockers Lucky Guns — the show ended with the drummer tearing apart his kit and a stage dive from Charles that nearly destroyed what was left of his guitar. The only thing missing was, well, more songs.
As Diarrhea Planet was setting up, we were told that the locals were sticking to 20-minute sets, which explained Hans' abrupt conclusion. As the crowd of youngsters filed back inside for DP's set of 100-mph party rock, we wondered what we could say about the Planet that hasn't already been said. We quickly remembered that the most overlooked aspect of a Diarrhea Planet show is the guy hidden behind a wall of guitar players: a phenomenal drummer in Casey Weissbuch. In fact, while watching DP interweave guitarmonies and intricate tapping at a breakneck speed, we realized once again that amidst their good-time-Charlie attitude, these guys have some serious chops.
After Diarrhea Planet's set ended in typical debaucherous fashion, local scene champion and authentic punk torchbearer Cy Barkley took the stage to a crowd that had turned surprisingly well-behaved. Cy's own calls for more stage diving went unanswered, but he nonetheless plowed through a powerful set of classic hardcore. After the show, one angry fan was overheard lamenting that the crowd's lack of energy and stage diving was "like totally disrespectful, man."
By this time we'd had enough beer to go through all the cash in our wallet. With two more bands to go, we pulled out the debit card and told Bruce to keep 'em coming. Next up was Indiana's TV Ghost, representing In the Red Records. With a frontman sporting a Squier Jagstang, a Jesus and Mary Chain haircut and a missing front tooth, they performed an impressive brand of post-punk that brought to mind The Cramps and Pere Ubu's thrashier moments.
But what about our headliners? Over the course of the evening we had heard increasingly hyperbolic descriptions of The Spits' legendary live show. By all accounts, the Seattle trio had laid waste to Springwater a year ago, and their return to Nashville in support of a new rarities LP was billed as a must-see by anyone who had a previous Spits experience. As the band set up their back line with a flashing blue police light, a giant skull backdrop and strobe lights, the crowd began to pack in front of the stage like an impatient mob. This was looking like it was going to be something special. The Spits eventually reappeared in hooded cloaks and, after an ill-timed false start, proceeded to sprint through a set of two-minute punk anthems with nary a pause for anyone to catch their breath. It was punk-rock paradise. The pit was as brutal and bruising as we've ever seen in these city limits. Between stage dives and flying elbows, the sweaty crowd chanted along while The Spits offered no quarter in return. The climax of the show came when drummer Lance Phelps lit fire to his cymbals, confirming the legend of pyro The Spits have now become known for. And keeping with the punk tradition, it was all over in about 35 minutes. As we checked out pockets and filed out with our sweat-drenched pals, we overheard statements like "As good as it gets" and "The best punk band in the world" and "The closest thing to The Misfits and Ramones." Our marathon was completed, but it felt like The Spits legend still had many miles to go. One, Two, Three, Four ...