The Spin arrived at The Stone Fox Thursday night hoping that the inoffensive surf-pop melodies of a certain Southern crooner would be enough to make us forget about our weather woes. (Spoiler alert: They weren't!) The Southern crooner in question is of course Dent May, the Mississippi-born multi-instrumentalist who is currently on tour with California’s Jack Name. But before either of those lo-fi pop phenoms could take the stage, local support D. Watusi needed to do their thing.
As is often the case on weeknights at The Stone Fox, D. Watusi began their set to a sparse crowd. But their jams quickly conjured up an audience, and after a few minutes, a healthy-sized crowd had gathered for the Watoos' particularly psychedelic set, which was peppered with desert rock and gospel melodies. The bulk of D. Watusi's performance consisted of one long, uninterrupted jam, highlighted by Cam Sarrett’s metronomic drumming. It was dizzying and captivating, and after D. Watusi’s performance, we grabbed a seat in order to mentally prepare for Jack Name’s light show.
Jack Name (whose real name is John Webster Adams, but he's previously perfromed under the monikers MUZZ, Fictional Boys and John Webster Johns) didn’t bring a literal light show with him. We do swear though, the tunes from his newest LP, Light Show, had The Spin feeling a little synesthetic on Thursday night. If bright, pulsating, warming light had an auditory equivalent, it’d probably be the shimmery, glitzy tunes from Name’s latest record. Name was accompanied by a few familiar local faces, namely fellow rock 'n' rollers D. Watusi frontman Dillon Watson on guitar and Ryan Donoho (of OGG and more) on drums. Name is one of the headliners slated to play Nashville's Dead's Freakin’ Weekend V fest this spring. Still, no complaints from us on getting to sneak in a preview set from the ethereal Jack a month ahead of schedule.
Closing out the night was Southern charmer Dent May. Though Dent may hail from Oxford, Miss., his tunes and general persona would fit right in with the current pop rock landscape of Southern California, headquarters to such like-minded dudes as
Mac DeMarco and May’s touring buddy Jack. That being said, May does have a distinctively different approach from DeMarco or Name. His songwriting and melodies are more straightforward, taking on smooth, almost easy-listening-like sensibilities in a live setting — kind of the best lounge music ever. Nevertheless, May’s approach is just as garage-rocky as it is smoothed-out; just punk enough to keep his tunes from ever falling into full-blown bubble-gum pop territory.
On his latest album, Warm Blanket, Dent May complains that he was “born too late.” He may very well have been born in the wrong region too. You get the sense that May would have been more at home in Brian Wilson’s SoCal, cranking out one simple love tune after the other. Now that we think about it, ol' Dent might be on to something. Perpetual sun rays and no wind chill don’t sound too bad right about now.
How much longer till spring again?