Hey, we’re this many! We at the Cream celebrated our sixth birthday with what proved to be a packed-out uber-bash at Mercy Lounge and The High Watt on Saturday night. So thank you, Nashville, for making our party a success ... even though we didn't have the budget for the John Rich dunking booth and Juggalo face-painting booth we were hoping for. And while the run up to our celebration featured a lot of pre-party prep and swilling a little bit of free booze in order to calm our nerves, we think we remember most of the details. Anyway, we’ll give it a shot.
The night began with some sweet soul and rock ‘n’ roll cuts provided by Sparkle City DJs on the wheels of steel. James Brown, the Stones … you know, top-shelf party jams. We mounted the stage in order to introduce country songstress Nikki Lane, whose all-star band was going by the moniker “Al Pastor” for the night. Delectable indeed. There were the usual suspects as far as Lane's sidefolk go, including bassist Aaron Oliva, quick-with-a-lick guitarist Sean "To the Wall" Thompson and guitarist and singer Carey Kotsionis, who is herself a crack songwriter. But we were happy to see recent additions Luke Schneider (sometime Cream contributor and sideman to Cortney Tidwell and Little Bandit, among others) on steel and Poni Silver (The Ettes) on drums. Schneider knows how to coax some gorgeous strains out of that confounded contraption of his, and rock 'n' roller Silver is more versatile and natural with a shuffle than ever we'd thought. Between the bittersweet new tune "Crazy (All Messed Up)" and the country-rock burner "Lies" from last year's excellent Walk of Shame, The Spin thought the band was sounding tighter than ever. Also, in a gloriously Nashvillian turn, Miss Lane went to work as a bartender right there in Mercy after her set. We hope everyone tipped her well.
Then it was time for renaissance man Daniel Pujol and his PUJOL, who led off with the killer one-two garage-punk punch of "Keeper of Atlantis" and "Butterfly Knife." We'd heard that the Pooj was attempting to get over some kind of bug, but you wouldn't know it from the urgent, burning existential pop-with-a-brain rock 'n' roll tunes he and his rhythm section were dishing out. Of course, as always, the anthemic "Black Rabbit" united the crowd in a visceral, triumphant, fist-pumping sing-along. But we were personally the most stoked on hearing tunes from this year's Saddle Creek debut United States of Being with full-band arrangements — the ballad of vexing mental anguish that is "Psychic Pain," for instance, or at the other end of the spectrum, the uplifting "Niceness." We popped over to the smoke-shrouded High Watt for the dancy electro-punk of Future Unlimited, whose post-punk and New Wave flourishes brought to our mind a little bit of Depeche Mode and New Order influence. Our colleague insisted, however, that it sounded much more like earlier post-punk stuff, "a la Birthday Party or early Cure." All right, he's probably right. Either way, it was thumping, dreamy, dark and heavy, somewhere between goth and synth pop, and certainly diggable.
At this point, both clubs were swimming with pals of the Cream/Spin, but between hellos and toasting ourselves, we got to witness Natural Child's pre-show ritual of a serious backstage bro hug. We gave away a couple of goofy prizes, announced the arrival of the Generation Domination photo booth — excellent ... photo proof of our drunken, self-congratulatory debauchery — and joined the crowd as Natty Child launched into their beautifully grimy rock 'n' roll. Wes Traylor laid down those lithe, trademark bass lines of his while Seth Murray dropped to his knees and solo'd. We even saw the aforementioned Mr. Schneider do a stage dive into the sweaty, moshing chaos taking place down in front. As our boss eloquently put it, Natural Child is "music to club mailboxes by." As many times as we've attempted to describe the swampy, fuzzy, trad-rock grit of tunes like the middle-finger salute that is "8 AM Blues" from this year's For the Love of the Game, we're just not sure we could express it any better than that. Guess that's why he's our boss. Though NC's initial set was all too brief, the boys came back out for a handful of additional tunes, among them something with a rad harmonica solo from Murray, not to mention a true-to-form take on "Take It Easy." Hell, if you're going to cover the Eagles, there definitely isn't a better selection than that. We were all just trying to loosen our load, after all.
We rushed back over to The High Watt just as soon as Natural Child wrapped, but we unfortunately missed local electro-poppers Wild Cub's set. Bummer. We can say, however, that their brand-new effort Youth is worth a listen, and we'll be sure to catch them next time. So anyhow, the Y2K Dance Party commenced in High Watt, and we soon headed back to Mercy for a few more party tunes courtesy of the Sparkle City boys. After a wee bit of glad-handing and a couple more goof-off shots in the photo booth, we realized we were in danger of being the last drunk dude standing at our own birthday party. No one wants to be that dude, and thus we called it a night. Another year in the can for Nashville Cream. Thanks to our sponsors. Thanks to Mercy and The High Watt. Thanks to the bands and the DJs. And thank you for partying with us, brothers and sisters.