Post-rock and soul seem to be my primary genres of choice this weekend, and Sharon Jones — backed as always by the phenomenal Dap-Kings — delivered the latter with stunning proficiency on Friday afternoon at What Stage. Jones was confident as ever, strutting around the stage in her purple sequined dress, thanking her fans and the universe for the success she’s achieved despite obstacles like the recent loss of her mother, getting a late start in life — she cut her first solo track at age 40 (she’s 56 now), having worked as a corrections officer at Rikers Island for many years — and a recent dental procedure gone awry.
The Kings’ musicianship and Jones’ powerhouse charisma nearly bring a tear to my eyes every time, and while tunes like “I Learned the Hard Way” were quite moving, Mr. Aztec-Print PJs and his Cosby vest standing near me moved a lot. Perhaps a slightly distracting amount.
Jones typically performs a cover-laden encore, but if that went down, I had to miss it in order to catch local gal Caitlin Rose over at the Great Taste Lounge, which is effectively serving as the Nashville Stage this weekend. Rose and her backing band — consisting of top-notchers Spencer Cullum Jr., Reno Bo, Jeremy Fetzer and Ian Fitchuk — kicked off with three new tunes, among them a double-time, bittersweet and triumphant number by the name of “Menagerie” that was absolutely soul-stirring. The first familiar tune I heard was Own Side Now’s gorgeous waltzing ballad, “For the Rabbits,” and as many times as I’ve heard “Shanghai Cigarettes” (over 100?), it just dawned on me that it’s a bit like Linda Ronstadt covering Bob Seger. That’s some American-ass music right there, and Rose’s band has their familiar classic-country sound as in the bag as they ever have.
I’ve seen Feist three times in about six months (TMR, The Ryman), so I’m afraid I just can’t wring one more adjective describing the stately indie-folk Canuck and her trio of backing vocalists, Mountain Main, out of my brain. But a certain local singer just might guest blog Feist’s ‘Roo-formance for us — fingers crossed. Anyway, Feist once again didn’t play “1 2 3 4,” so I guess she just doesn’t do that anymore.
With a couple fellow Cream Teamers, I approached That Tent to the sounds of Annie Clark’s St. Vincent. She's basically the Black Swan of indie rock, dark and transfixing but not a downer, and adept at getting a crowd to eat from the palm of her hand. Clark convulsed and ballet-stepped rhythmically around the stage in all black, meshing singular, catchy vocal melodies with fuzzy, art-rocky, effects-laden riffs that she played flawlessly between fits of banging with clenched fist on the body of her guitar. Backed by meticulous electronic arrangements, Clark slipped subtle cues to the sound guy — a gesture at a monitor here, a nod toward the drummer there — between verses and epic turns, like the dramatic, operatic build-up of “Black Rainbow.” Clark is a stunning, theatrical performer with just about the meanest guitar tone you’ll hear on the more-arty, less-metal side of rock ‘n’ roll. Good stuff, even if Spurgeon found it boring.
Getting a decent spot at Radiohead proved to be mildly terrifying when my fellow cattle and I were herded through a bottle-necking entrance point at side stage, but hearing "Karma Police," "Everything in Its Right Place" and "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" and catching some hot goss while a mere 100 feet from Thom Yorke was my best experience thus far, even if my bladder was near the point of bursting — I almost decided to be "that guy" and pee in a bottle while shielded by my colleagues, but I'm happy to learn that my body just won't allow me to be "that guy."
There's plenty more to say, but I've already missed Charles Bradley thanks to my duties as Cream Cap'n, and I'm not pleased about it. I'll be damned if I'm going to miss all of Battles. I'll catch up with you fine folks tomorrow.