When we were asked — as part of our duties at the Scene — to help book a four-week series at the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Nashville, we said, "Sure." But it was a reticent "sure." Not that there's anything wrong with Hard Rock, per se. It's a pristine venue with good sound, a cool layout and an awesome view. It's just ... well, creatures of habit as we are, we're at home in sweaty, sticky dives and our tried-and-true nightly local haunts. But after valeting the busted-ass Spinmobile and shuffling upstairs on Thursday night, we were met with the same familiar faces — and a sea of them, at that — we're used to seeing at venues like Mercy Lounge, The End, et al. After all, it was just another show from road-tested local faves Turbo Fruits and The Greenhornes. Only difference is, we could stand on the patio and smoke while still being able to see and hear the bands. Not bad.
The Spin and our date were voraciously hungry, so we spent a brief portion of Turbo Fruits' set absolutely going to town on a pair of cheeseburgers. Like, mercilessly devouring these things, and washing them down with the slick, mellow sounds of "Dreams for Sale," the Fruits' opening number. As frontman Jonas Stein would later tell us, Turbo Fruits decided to fill their set almost entirely with new songs, most of which were clearly constructed since the induction of newest member and second guitarist Kingsley Brock — they were natural, fluid tunes that sounded like they were fleshed out and obviously built for a four-piece.
We watched Stein grow up and stretch his chops way back in his Springwater days, when his most apparent influences were outfits like MC5 and The Stooges. But with the melodic nuances now provided by Kingsley, we'd venture to say Turbo Fruits wander between the territory of riff-driven but smart indie-rock acts like Built to Spill and balls-out (but also riff-driven) hard-rock acts like Queens of the Stone Age. Hell, Jonas even played an organ! One thing that has not changed about the Fruits' material, however, is the amount of upbeat, surfy vibes. Still loads of those.
Obligatory name-dropping portion of The Spin: We spotted members of JEFF the Brotherhood, The Ettes, D. Watusi, Tristen, Useless Eaters, The Black Belles, My So-Called Band and Brendan Benson up in this piece. And they were all doing the unthinkable: enjoying rock music in a venue with "Rock" in the title. Anyway, The Greenhornes did exactly what we'd bet on them doing. They delivered gritty blues rock, straight from the garage, punctuated with bursts of wailing proficiency and featuring just the right amount of '60s R&B influence. With Craig Fox assuming his usual rock 'n' roll-stoic position mid-stage, the 'Hornes mostly played tunes from their latest. Highlights? The relentless organ solo from auxiliary man Mark Watrous on "Underestimator" and The Greenhornes' furious, fast-fingered and totally authentic cover of Yardbirds' "Lost Woman," complete with a bitchin' solo from drummer Patrick Keeler. A classic-rock cover (from an under-sung band) we can get behind.
The Greenhornes wound down their set somewhere near 10 p.m., leaving The Spin feeling rather productive. We'd witnessed a powerful double-dose of efficient garage-punk prowess, had a few drinks, chilled on a veranda — we think it's a veranda? — and gotten our parking validated, all well before midnight. Shortly after The Greenhornes' set, Saliva's classic hit "Click Click Boom" played over the Hard Rock's speakers. We took that as our cue. We're comin' down on the stereo; hear us on the radio. Click, click, boom!