We hate to admit it, but even The Spin is susceptible to the East Nashville tractor beam, as if crossing a bridge to get to a West Side venue is the same as crossing the damn Sahara. But every once in a while, a show pops up on our radar that drags our lame asses out of the house and down to the Nations — Friday night's female-fronted affair with Fancytramp, Bully and Swearin' at The Stone Fox was one of those shows. And man, would we have felt like jerks if we missed it.
We arrived at the Fox to find the joint hoppin', packed with familiar local rock faces. Members of Tipper Whore, Scale Model, Heavy Cream, JEFF the Brotherhood and more were milling about, drinking PBR from Mason jars and chain smoking cigarettes on the back deck, as Fancytramp set up for their last show ever. Kinda.
Although Philadelphia power-pop throwback Swearin' were the technical headliners of the night, this show clearly belongs to Fancytramp, the ever-evolving noise fest anchored by singer-guitarist Olivia Scibelli and bassist Katie Banyay. With the departure of drummer Matt Manning, the remaining duo has decided to put the Fancytramp name to rest — but not before a grand finale of menacing sludge rock. Once upon a time, we described Fancytramp as “bubble grunge,” but the Sabbath-style wailing sure put a nail in that non-genre's coffin. We'd say that we'd miss Fancytramp, if it weren't for the fact that in Nashville, bands don't break-up — they just divide like amoebae into new gigs. Keep an eye out for Idle Bloom, a new project by Scibelli and Banyay that will rise phoenix-like from the ashes of Fancytramp in the new year.
The last time we saw Swearin', they deftly conquered our skepticism as the opening act for a pre-Thanksgiving show at Exit/In last year. At the time, the shitty attitude of the small crowd of Japandroids fans who weren't already on their way to Grandma's house put a damper on our mood, but couldn't help but be charmed by their '90s throwback indie pop. On Friday night, Swearin' bounced in alternate succession between “band that could've opened for Weezer in 1996” and “nuevo Superchunk," with the songs sung by singer-guitarist Allison Crutchfield really hitting us right in our bittersweet '90s indie-rock wheelhouse. We haven't spent a whole lot of time with their new LP, Surfing Strange, but songs like “Dust in the Gold Sack” and old faves like “Kenosha” and “Here to Hear” were well-received by the crowd of fellow indie dweebs (our people!) and went straight into the part of our brain that songs get stuck in.
And then there was Bully, who played the role of second local-rock bread slice in the Swearin' sandwich. Is there anything that we could possibly say about Bully that we haven't already? Their debut EP has pretty much ruled our world in 2013, finally giving us a respite from all those songs about beaches that we're tired of hearing. The eponymous track from that EP is still one of our top jams. We're still making that same joke about how their drummer is Stewart Copeland, but you know, not that Stewart Copeland. Bassist Daniel Severs was wearing a Santa hat and a goofy Christmas sweater, so that was fun. But for now, we pretty much know what to expect from Bully, and what we expect is a full-on local-rock takeover in 2014, replete with frontwoman Alicia Bognanno's spot-on, punk-poppy vocal melodies atop sinewy arrangements and Copeland's restless, bombastic drumming. From what we've heard of the new material, our expectations don't seem all that far off.