Thanks, Nick Cave, for ruining pretty much every other show we're going to see for the rest of the month. Or year. Or ever. There's no way anybody is going to top what The Spin saw on Saturday night at the Ryman. Maybe if Jesus descends from heaven to front a reformed Flipper and they get, say, The Screamers to open ... that might top it. Mr. Cave and his Bad Seeds threw down a monster set of epic goth cabaret in the Mother Church this weekend, an evening of dark beauty to cap off one of the most beautiful days in recent memory — the sort of night that is going to throw off the curve for ages to come.
OK, so our big complaint about the night? Sports. We forgot that the Alatuckey vs. Louisibama Baseketball tourney was going on downtown, and forgot that those people have no idea how to drive in an urban situation, much less park. Our shortcut was blocked off due to some stupid block party, we witnessed two fender-benders, and we still had to park somewhere around Meharry. Again, this city — if it's going to keep encouraging large swaths of dipshits to come out for the weekend — needs to re-evaluate the parking and public-transportation situations. Out-of-state plates stealing The Spin's secret parking spot.
(Also not great? The number of full-blown racists we saw wandering around with “white pride” tattoos. Maybe some of you dudes should buy shirts with sleeves when you come to town so we don't have to go all "Stagger Lee" on your motherfucking heads.)
So anyway, The Spin, whose concept of punctuality isn't the best to begin with and definitely wasn't being helped along by the sudden influx of St. Patrick's Day-celebrating and basketball-watching douchebags, was a little bit late to catch former local and Scene favorite Sharon Van Etten. But damn, the last half of her set was gorgeous! With only a drummer and her guitar, Van Etten's voice filled the the Mother Church, soaring to heights that we haven't heard from her before. (OK yes, we were in the balcony, but you get what we're saying.) It was a minimal if stirring performance that highlighted Van Etten's strengths as a writer and a vocalist. Plus there was that whole “beaming with pride because an old college buddy is killin' it at the Ryman” thing, which may or may not have clouded our judgment. (It didn't. Sharon always kills.)
And speaking of killin' it, Nick Cave not only killed it, he chopped up the body into itsy-bitsy little pieces and sprinkled them all over the greater Metro area. While we've never considered ourselves huge Nick Cave superfans — we enjoy his music and own his records, but we're not scouring the Internet for demos of German B-sides, like some Cave completists we know — we were pretty fucking stoked going into this show. It was a set crammed with classics and filled out with some of the most intriguing songs from the latest Bad Seeds album, Push the Sky Away. It also sounded unlike anything we've ever heard at the Ryman: innately heavy, but with an astounding clarity that made every note and drum fill resonate in such a way that it enveloped us in buzzing, throbbing warmth.
Half the fun of the show was watching the crowd wig out — people were into the first few songs from the new album, but it seemed like the folks near us were going to explode when the band broke into “From Her to Eternity” from 1984's album of the same name. It was like suddenly we weren't in a roomful of adults, but rather a trauma ward full of teens suffering from Bieber Fever — and it only got crazier at the opening notes of “Red Right Hand." Absolute bedlam. Well, with the exception of the dude next to us who had fallen asleep! How in the fuck do you fall asleep when the Bad Seeds are destroying the building you're in, Cave holding you in the palm of his hand like the spindly Specter of Death himself?
As the crowd rushed the stage — male and female alike, hoping for a brief hand shake or maybe a fierce moment of faux-face-humping from Cave — and the band unfurled more classics like “Your Funeral, My Trial," “Jack the Ripper” and “God Is in the House," it was impossible not to be seduced by the entire affair. The way Cave moves and the way the band plays, it's like every thrust of hips and move of fingers across strings is calculated to bring each member of the audience to their own personal climax — it's sexual as much as spiritual, a perverse melange of all that is wrong and right about being human. And then there was the literal climax: an extended, triple-X workout of “Stagger Lee” that pretty much guaranteed there was not a dry pew in the house as Cave's titular anti-hero put four holes in the devil's motherfucking head. Capped off with an encore of “Tupelo” and “Push the Sky Away," it was a mind-blowing evening of rock 'n' roll.