Under the frosty glow of a nearly full moon, The Spin headed over to Cannery Row on Friday night for This Is Nashville, a big ol’ party aimed at the kids of all ages who were visiting the recently opened Music City Center for Comic Con. If the intent was to show off the breadth and scope of local talent to visiting cosplayers, we’d argue that the bill from the Cannery's 10th anniversary party last winter already nailed that. But headliners Peelander-Z play here often enough we’re willing to give them honorary local status, as long as they give us enough time to get our dancin’ muscles warmed up.
Upstairs in The High Watt, Stagolee applied comic-book makeup effects to themselves, and themselves to a mix of rock and pop that was too damn broad for us to get a handle on their personality. They had plenty going for them — chops, stage presence, even a collection of gear that had us geeking — but when these are the things we’re talking about after watching a band for half an hour (and not how their songs or their sound grabbed us), something’s missing.
We moseyed down the newly opened hallway between The High Watt and Mercy (our crotchety old shins would like to shower thanks and praise on the Cannery Row staffers who made that happen) for Brandon Jazz and His Armed Forces. Backed up by DJ Gary and all-time MVP drummer Jerry Pentecost, Jazz was his usual ebullient self, bent on using his tongue-in-cheek synth pop to make up single-handedly for any personality deficits we might encounter. It was still too early for folks to be in boogie-down mode, but Jazz wasn’t about to let that stop him from surfing on a crowd consisting of the five people who were in range.
Back in The High Watt, The Future finally got some bodies unlocked and in the groove. Maybe the group’s tight, dance-conscious pop was drawing residual energy from Franz Ferdinand’s visit to town earlier in the week, or maybe frontman Adam Culver’s red cowboy boots were helping him channel Ariel Moore. Either way, these guys were the unexpected hit of our night: With energy to spare, they could probably sell us on listening to selections from the phone book, and made us reconsider our decision to skip over the slicked-up version of dance pop that became a thing in the mid-Aughts.
We spent most of Modoc’s set trying to pinpoint why they don’t do it for us. Their brew of swaggering rock and stride-glidin’ dance beats was delivered competently and with aplomb, but it still felt eerie. Eventually, we noticed how much leader Clint Culbertson looks like Features frontman Matt Pelham, and it hit us: If someone were to remake Invasion of The Body Snatchers again, casting The Features as the local-rock-band-made-good, Modoc would be our choice for the post-snatch version. Call us picky, but we feel like we’ve heard everything Modoc does before, and we liked it better with keyboards.
We had to spend only a few minutes with The Kicks to peg them as understudies for The Darkness. It’s a role they take pride in, with vocalist Jordan Phillips stretching to the absolute peak of his vocal range during the first number. We can get behind some cock rock as much as the next guy with a bandanna, but when we saw the acoustic guitar, signifying an impending power ballad, we considered our duties discharged and beat a hasty retreat.
The punk-rock Power Rangers of Peelander-Z have played Nashville more times than we can remember (well, we remember that one time, and that one, too), and the show rarely changes. Audience members played instruments and gave the band piggy-back rides, there was human bowling, and the pots distributed for the community pot-bang appear to be the same ones they’ve been toting for years. Like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the sequence of events is predictable, but we keep coming back, because this fun, silly party never makes the fatal mistake of taking itself too seriously, washing away any hangups we might have about bouncing around like toddlers in a ball pit and singing the alphabet with a couple hundred grown-ass men and women. The mad gleam in leader Peelander Yellow’s eye will probably have us ushering our grandkids into his conga line.
We’d been downstairs once already to check out the fourth incarnation of the HUSTLE party, boasting a supergroup of DJs who mastermind some of the biggest dance parties in town. DJs from The BoomBap, Y2K and Keep on Movin’ had been spinning funk, hip-hop and other assorted danceable goodies all night long. Now that the main event was over, a few souls were ready to cut the virtual rug, but the Peelanders had worn most everyone out. That included us, so we called it a night.