We did it! We logged four straight nights of red-blooded stadium twang, watered down our disposable income with $8 lite beers, suffered tailgaters, got tan lines, witnessed felonies against fashion and even risked life, limb and a lightning storm (not really) to be there. (Though who wouldn’t wanna die doing something they're so passionate about, like tweeting dick jokes during a The Band Perry Performance?)
Native Nashvillians though we may indeed be, The Spin has never claimed mainstream country music as our wheelhouse. But with this year's CMA Music Fest taking place on a different weekend than Bonnaroo, we finally had no proper excuse not to dip our toes into the mainstream and see what all the fuss is about. And what better way to check the haps than sitting in on what amounts to a crash-course-style sampler at LP Field, wherein some of country's biggest names drop 30-minute sets of overblown arena country? So yes, we of The Spin waded through the sparkly-cowboy-hat-sporting, bronze-skinned, plastered and unwashed masses to listen to a bunch of music we don't typically listen to, all so that you don't have to.
Nothing says brutal, unrestrained, heavy metal music like the Toyota-produced line of vehicles known as Scion. All right, obviously not. But for one reason or another*, Scion has gotten into bed with metal (or perhaps it's the other way around?), and this year's Scion Rock Fest — its fifth installment — was held in Memphis. Performers included Melvins, Municipal Waste, Corrosion of Conformity, Testament, Pallbearer, Impaled and many more, and while The Spin wasn't able to make it down to Memphis to cover the brutal action for you, resident metalhead shutterbug Diana Lee Zadlo made the trip. Have a look at her slideshow here — it features photos of bands including A Life Once Lost, Arsis, Ice Dragon, Hot Lunch and plenty more. Ahh, metal band names.
* Knowing corporations, I'd say the reason is to try and sell cars.
The Spin sauntered into TMR’s Blue Room to find the stage looking like a glorified drum riser, with dueling Melvins drummers Dale Crover's and Coady Willis’ mirror-image kits set up front and center, taking up much of the performance perch’s real estate. The setup forced local openers Cy Barkley and his Way Outsiders (with the exception of drummer Acme Brown, of course) to set up house-show style on the venue floor in front of the stage — at eye level with the audience of super-psyched 30- and 40-something metalheads, grunge fetishists and TMR faithful.
With Ohio-bred hardcore-punk act Integrity sucking up the be-plugged slam-dance contingent across the street at The End, The Spin entered Exit/In to the sounds of jagged little grunge-pop trio Bully. Fronted by The Stone Fox's sound gal, Alicia Bognanno, Bully warmed the crowd of baby-fat- and fresh-tattoo-sporting millennials with their tight and angular post-Breeders punk-pop.
The Spin strolled down Third Avenue Wednesday night, basking in a warm breeze and a golden sunset glinting off the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. We’ve enjoyed seeing the Nashville Symphony Orchestra kick out art music jams spanning Mozart, Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Phillip Glass, despite an unwritten rule about the fanciness of one’s duds being inversely proportionate to the amount of attention one must pay to where one walks. Though reports were promising, we had yet to scope a pop concert inside the acoustic and architectural marvel for ourselves. The NSO’s current financial predicament means we’re likely to see a lot more of them, making the already-enticing bill with Steve Martin, the Steep Canyon Rangers and Edie Brickell a welcome opportunity to try it out.
Long before it got all segmented and compartmentalized on us, music was a communal thing. Before recording came about at the end of the 19th century, the only way to hear music was to go to a fancy hall and watch someone else make it, or get together with your friends and neighbors and make it yourself. Folk music has been romanticized to death in the wake of a booming music industry, and for better or worse, it’s now a marketable commodity with its own distinct demographic subset. The Spin would never bemoan someone getting their due, critically or financially, for hustling cross-country to entertain massive crowds with folk songs (or any other kind of songs, for that matter), but we definitely feel something missing in the inevitable distance that develops between artist and audience when that audience grows very large. With that in mind, we were stoked to have an opportunity to catch a folk-focused bill on Saturday night in The Stone Fox’s cozy West Side nook.
Well, you win some and you lose some. After a spring of stellar shows, The Spin had to draw the short straw eventually, and that short straw happened to be Toubab Krewe Friday night at Exit/In. Not that it was a bad show, per se — it was fine — but holiday weekends tend to lack audiences and energy, and if a band isn’t rolling into town with new material and a bit of buzz, things are just going to fall flat. And they did! At least they did for The Spin, who spent a solid chunk of our evening dodging rookie Wookies — they have no sense of balance! — and listening to the worst people ever talk about how they "totally dressed for Demonbreun." It was one of those “OK show, awful crowd” kind of nights. Which is fine, because, well, it was a long weekend, and we had an extra day to make up for it. And we did, but that’s a story for another time.
For their part, Jasmin Kaset and Makenzie Green lobbed their classic spitballs about adventures in arrested development, as well as newer numbers with a more aggressive edge. Their marquee tune “Saving Myself for Jesus” is an X-rated crowd-pleaser for sure, but rises above a novelty song designation through its oblique criticism on a controversial topic: intimate activities for you and your partner that, despite their potential gross and/or demeaning nature, are A-OK with certain socially conservative Christians. Other audience favorites in their catalog have been more party-oriented, but the claws are starting to come out more frequently. Their new homecoming anthem hollers proudly “I’m from here,” poking fun at a potential flood of wannabes attracted by Nashville’s recent acquisition of “it,” while a song about being “confused as a Christian Bob Dylan” put a different light on tangled, potentially abusive relationships.
Tuesday night at Cannery Ballroom was about as close to a perfect night as one could hope for — the weather was flawless, nobody snagged The Spin's secret parking spot, and one of our favorite bands of all time was playing one of our favorite albums of all. Yep, The Breeders were in town for the release date of LSXX, the new 20th anniversary edition of the alterna-rock classic Last Splash, and all was right with the world. Shit, it was a packed show and there was hardly a line for booze! (We suspect that the alterna-teens don't rage as hard they used now that they are alterna-thirtysomethings.) Oh, and we're in love with last-minute-addition opener Deerhunter.
"i'm comin' straight outta crawmpton."
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