The Spin hasn’t yet seen television’s Nashville, the fictitious depiction of reality here in Music City. We can’t help but think, however, that there’s a substantially remarkable dimension to our city that is deserving of its own series — but we hope it never comes to fruition. We’re just not sure how re-casting and fictionalizing the events of a locally stocked cavalcade of talent like the one at Exit/In Saturday night could possibly be made any better.
That obligatory pre-show PBR at the Gold Rush is almost always responsible for us walking in mid-set — this time on openers Poly, who were shucking and jiving through their quirky, old-time twee jubilee of jazzy pop tunes straight out of the postmodern American songbook. Watching the trio of multi-instrumentalists — mostly former Hotpipe Dan Sommers — pull from a seemingly bottomless bag of ukes, banjos, percussion bits and noisemakers of which The Spin does not know the names is a pretty dazzling spectacle in and of itself. These intricately yet minimally orchestrated ditties, fashioned after a long-gone era, get heavy on the chops but otherwise stay light and fancy-free — given the fact that none seems to concern anything much heavier than scissors, cats and sidewalk chalk.
Next up, all-star ensemble By Lightning! made a whole lot of ruckus with more than their share of capable hands — their lineup of course features the likes of Joel J. Dahl and wife Serai Zaffiro, Matt Moody, Jerry Pentecost and a few more. The result is a veritable tsunami of epic hook-laiden classic Southern American pop that washes smoothly over the room with the help of silky organ sounds and sweetly soulful female backing vocals. Singers Dahl and Moody crooned away, sandwiched between grimy blues-guitar licks and a powerful, thumping underlying groove strong enough to scare all those bland Americana pitfalls far away.
The hype for headliners Forget Cassettes was rekindled when each opener reiterated their imminent appearance. The latest incarnation of singer-songwriter E.G. Cameron’s — an indelible force around these parts for several years now — outfit is more a change of name than a return to roots. In its original form, Cassettes was simply Cameron and drummer Doni Schroader shredding a heavy, emotionally charged and technically adept sort of indie rock. More resembling the set-up of Cameron's previous project Eliza the Arrow, the sheer amount of synthesizers onstage told us this was all but a reunion act.
Cameron’s new band carries all the brunt of its previous form, placing the delicate force of her voice amid soft, slow interludes to serve as a calm before the booming storm of drums and guitar. Only this time, the storm was built on a low-end piano rumble and synthetic sub-bass, accented with electronic squeals, glitches, samples and loops. Even when Cameron put down her axe to free up her fingers for more keys, the band never fully crossed over into “electronic music” territory. Rather, this was still heavy rock executed with slightly different weapons. Old fans and friends were warm, receptive and outspokenly approving. We’ll just have to wait to see if the rest of Nashville follows suit.