When The Spinmobile rolled up to The Stone Fox on Friday, we were surprised (given the buzz around the release of Tristen’s new C A V E S) to nab a parking spot out front. After years in the making, the night had finally come for the local pop songstress to formally christen her new full-length before a hometown audience. Nevertheless, upon making our way into the House of Tyler, we found the modest crowd to be a bit languid — perhaps woozy from the previous night's festivities — as openers Penicillin Baby took the stage.
In the big ol’ plastic jack-o’-lantern of pop music, The Spin finds the indie-folk-mericana the kids like so much to represent the inevitable orange-creme-flavored Tootsie Roll. We appreciate the thought, but we’ll trade it for an Atomic Fireball at the first opportunity. We sincerely wished the best for Mumford & Sons’ bassist Ted Dwane after a serious illness forced the group out of their Bonnaroo headlining slot and into hiatus mode, but no way were we going to complain about not having to spend two precious hours listening to good-natured, middle-of-the-road pop music played on acoustic instruments. (Well, the replacement was Bit-O-Honey Jack Johnson, so we complained a little anyway.)
Regardless, Salvador Dali Parton — an impromptu supergroup made up of the Mumfords’ Winston Marshall, Old Crow Medicine Show’s Gill Landry and The Apache Relay’s Mike Harris, aided by Justin Hayward-Young of Brit indie rockers The Vaccines and Jake Orrall from our own stoner-pop masterminds JEFF the Brotherhood — gave us a timely reminder that just because these guys make a living as Gentlemen of the Road doesn’t mean it’s the only trick up their sleeves.
As the great American poet Wallace Stevens once wrote, there is a certain misery you can detect in the sound of the winter wind. The Spin was put in mind of Stevens’ early poem “The Snow Man” as we made our way to Cannery Ballroom Wednesday night to hear singer and songwriter Neko Case. After breaking through with her 2006 full-length Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, Case has become a poet of sometimes bleak physical and emotional landscapes. To borrow Stevens’ turn of phrase, Case has a “mind of winter,” and she explores loss, depression and other wintry subjects on her new The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You. Being a product of the rock ‘n’ roll era, Case also writes about some subjects Stevens ignored: She sings about 20-year-old telephone calling cards and the drugs her brain makes to keep her moving slowly. Case is a concise writer, but she couches her insights in music that often seems designed to communicate ambivalence.
Minds. Blown. That’s how The Spin felt more times than we can remember at last night’s Nine Inch Nails show at Bridgestone Arena, one of the most visually stunning spectacles we’ve ever seen. We’re talking, like, the shit for-real rivaled U2 at Vandy. Near main set’s end, as the band charged through its biggest post-Y2K hit “The Hand That Feeds,” there was one moment in particular we’re still trying to wrap our brains around a day later. During the song, radioactive-looking neon silhouettes of Trent Reznor and his electro-rock foot soldiers started flickering for split seconds at a time than disappearing to reveal the real band members, back-lit and obscured by a transparent screen of digital mesh at the lip of the stage. Fucking holograms, y’all!
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.
As fans of both the looming hip-hop/EDM singularity and ludicrous Twitter beefs, The Spin couldn't help but be glued to the Interwebs for the fallout from this weekend's volley of subtweets hurled into the ether by Detroit rapper Danny Brown and EDM juggernaut Derek Smith, aka Pretty Lights. To recap: Brown was booked onto a couple of dates with Pretty Lights (including Saturday's Illumination event), the first show went sour, words were said, Danny Brown dropped off the Nashville date.
Then, as Illumination opened its doors and a steady flow of glowing neo-ravers streamed into Greer Stadium for the first time since their dads dragged them to an Albuquerque Isotopes game, Brown announced that he would be performing in Nashville ... at 1 a.m. at a nightclub on Second Avenue. It's not quite Greer Stadium, but hell, we'll take it.
The Spin has been going to Greer Stadium since we were wee little Spinlets. Of course, it's always been for Sounds games, so the prospect of a whopping EDM event — more or less a full-blown rave, complete with outlandishly clad youngsters and gut-rumbling sub-bass — was something we just had to see for ourselves. Derek Vincent Smith (aka Pretty Lights) brought his Illumination event to Greer on Saturday evening; it's the first time he's rolled through Nashville since he and Skrillex put on With Your Friends last October at The Lawn.
Of course, despite all the good vibes that Smith tries to imbue all of his events with, there was still a touch of drama: Controversial Detroit hip-hop artist Danny Brown was dropped from the Illumination event last-minute due to some beef that took place the previous night in St. Louis. From what we hear, Brown's and Smith's vibes may not have been fully simpatico anyhow. And anyway, The Spin still managed to catch the late-night set at SEEN that Brown booked — but we'll get to that later.
The Spin has trouble counting the number of times we've had the privilege of watching a legendary artist perform. Most of the time, we have a pretty good idea of what we're getting into, but psych-soul hero Shuggie Otis is not your everyday elder statesman. He hasn't released new material or toured regularly in decades (though he tells contributor Sean Maloney that we should expect a new album early next year). His catalog so far — consisting of a handful of albums from the early '70s and a disc's worth of tracks recorded between 1975 and 2000 — is a bold, beautiful and unpredictable hybrid of funky soul and psychedelic experimentalism, sounding like someone dosed Allen Toussaint's jambalaya with pharmaceutical-grade acid. In the end, Otis and his band set a new standard for funk, soul and blues shows that's going to be pretty hard to beat, even without doing the one thing we thought for sure they would do — but we'll get to that later.
The fact that the always punctual (har!) Spin was able to roll up to Municipal Auditorium 15 minutes before showtime at Monday night’s Queens of the Stone Age gig and immediately land a prime street parking spot caddy-corner to the arena made us wonder if we had shown up on the right night. We had, and we didn't just have amazing parking karma, as the typically quiet Monday-night-downtown vibe was a heart-sinking sign that Nashville wasn’t quite as ready to rock as we might have hoped.
On Saturday evening, critically acclaimed, affable songsmith Aimee Mann played to a sold-out crowd at the historic Franklin Theatre with support from her friend and fellow songwriter's songwriter Ted Leo. The two even performed a handful of songs together as The Both, their collaborative project — The Both showcases not only each artist's stellar vocal and instrumental chops, but also their knack for crafting the kind of earnest-but-not-sappy fare that bridges the gap between folk and punk.
There was a man named Jimmie Rodgers once.
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