Somewhere around a year ago, The Spin wasn’t quite sure what to make of our first impression of East Nashville Underground. The photobooth, bar and stage were all crammed into an incredibly humid two-room basement which itself was crammed with a couple hundred music fans, the sweaty pits of whom provided a stench we haven’t yet washed out of the T-shirt we wore that night.
Transcending from ashy to classy, ENU’s debut at new venue The East Room last fall still included booze and grub with the ticket price, but also a much better lineup, much more accommodating digs and a mysterious appearance from porn star Ron Jeremy. Still, it was unclear whether this scene was really gaining recognition outside of the East Side, and beyond the people who turned up.
Thanks to a little boost from a new sponsor — local radio big shots Lightning 100 — The Hedgehog himself would have been turned away at the door without an advance ticket. Both days of the event sold out before dark, sending many would-be patrons on a chilly trip across the street to Foobar. Even The Spin arrived just a little too late on Friday night to get our designated driver in with us.
We learned our lesson and showed up bright and early (at the ass-crack of dusk) on Saturday night in time to catch the cool and careful orchestral pop of Colorfeels. The glass was half full in terms of attendance, but with free beers flying across the bar and gratis chips and salsa for all to enjoy, The Spin was at a rare loss for complaints. Female-fronted power-pop outfit Frances and the Foundation — featuring ENU honcho Jared Corder on drums — followed. The early portion of Saturday's festivities concluded with synth-pop party machine Hanzelle, whose electro-math-rock beats and gratuitously squiggly Moog sounds made it tough for daytime ticket holders to leave.
After taking a break to grab some warm clothes and dinner, The Spin returned to nothing short of a full house. Tobacco junkies shivered furiously outside while everyone inside kept their forearms fixed upright so as not to spill their complimentary cocktails. Previously unheard by The Spin, COIN brought with them some synth-driven pop that was just creative enough for us to forgive their exceptionally less impressive band name. Tesla Rossa rocked a brand of radio rock that at this point could be accurately described as “classic” (i.e., turn-of-the-century style).
Closing out the evening — at least for us — were James Wallace and the Naked Light. Blending a little oldies rock with a mellow, grass-roots folk implosion, Wallace makes a kind of music that’s melodious and quirky and easy to enjoy if you're easygoing. Proggy jamsters Moon Taxi kicked into their set as we exited — purely by coincidence, we swear. But now that ENU has mastered the art of making these events truly eventful, we may have to make it our business to get in the door in time to catch the whole shebang next time.