Friday was Infinity Cat Day in Nashville. Not just at Exit/In, where the patriarchal local punk label hosted the first of two weekend shows to celebrate its 10th anniversary, but at City Hall as well. This according to Nashville Metro Council Resolution No. RS2012-339, “honoring Infinity Cat Recordings on its Tenth Anniversary as one of Nashville’s best Independent Labels.” Minutes before Tristen took the stage and midway through the night, Nashville Councilman at Large Ronnie Steine (father of sometime JEFF the Brotherhood sideman and Nashville’s Dead co-founder David Steine) officially presented the resolution to Jake, Jamin and Bob Orrall, enlisting the crowd to intone each of the document’s seven uses of the word “WHEREAS” in unison.
Unfortunately, it rained on Infinity Cat’s parade. As we departed our pre-game hang at Goldrush for Exit/In, a torrential downpour struck Nashville, making a rushing river of Elliston Place that swallowed up the sidewalks and trapped us at the bar’s front door. Willing to sacrifice comfort for rock 'n’ roll, we recreated the swamp-crossing scene in Stand by Me and, though thankfully leech-free, made our way into the club with waterlogged shoes and soggy threads just as show-openers Psychic Hotline struck their first chord. Inside the room it felt like an early cocktail hour as the band plowed through its throwback punk.
Though Psychic Hotline is a relatively new entity on the local scene, this five-band bill was tipped heavily toward locally familiar faves like Tristen and Diarrhea Planet and the rare-treat rock of Deluxin’ and a reunited Skyblazer. By the time the former hit the stage, a look at the hundreds-strong crowd bore little indication of the stormy weather outside. Deluxin’ has kept a rather low profile in the past year or so, making the band’s Wipers-inspired, weirdly catchy, deconstructionist noise rock quite a pleasure on the ears. With singer-guitarist Nathan Vasquez speak-screaming like a madman and jumping up toward the ceiling with the aggressive joy of a cartoon tiger, the band was apparently having as much wet and wild fun as we were.
Tristen was an interesting choice for this bill. Though the singer and her band, on this night appearing sans-drummer and with a drum machine, have never had a direct association with Infinity Cat and is like Fleetwood Mac to Infinity Cat’s Buzzcocks- and Clash-inspired roster, their warm, nimble pop was well-received by the normally rowdy garage-rock faithful, thanks in large part to the darkly effervescent singer confidently commanding the crowd’s undivided attention with her ever-evolving moves and stage persona.
Less than an hour later, the previously transfixed crowd was shouting, throwing drinks in the air and crowd surfing to the five-guitar-assaultive, nervy, happy hardcore of Diarrhea Planet, who come off more like a shirtless, short-shorts-wearing gang than they do a band. With pop-sensible hooks inspired by The Descendents and a presentation that brings a little Warped Tour-ness to any local rock show, DP could very well one day be Infinity Cat’s first band to make the jump to Fat Wreck Chords. And we mean that in a good way.
Closing out the sweat- and rain-soaked show was a one-off Skyblazer reunion. Not only was this the band’s, which features JEFF the Brotherhood’s Orrall brothers along with Festival/Cake Bake Betty singer Lindsey Powell, first (and probably last) show in, like, five years, it doubled as a record release for the their long-lost LP, which was cut in 2006. Local-rock newcomers unfamiliar with the band’s tripped-out simultaneous Slits and Black Sabbath worship undoubtedly heard a primitive, sonic strand of DNA for the psychedelic proclivities the Orralls have increasingly indulged in over time. Could this band have developed into an international entity? Perhaps. But Friday’s performance was geared more toward a nostalgic, half-hearted freak-out that went from sounding like JEFF-meets-Jefferson Airplane to JEFF-meets-Edgar Winter. Groovy times!