About three or four songs into his set Monday night at the Ryman — the first showing of a two-night stand at the Mother Church — Beck Hansen informed his crowd that “the seeds of this record,” this year’s stunning if tranquil Morning Phase, germinated in Nashville. Indeed, Beck began work on some of Phase’s songs while spending time in Music City nearly a decade ago, and at least one of the Nashville-born songs — the dreamy folk-pop number “Blackbird Chain” — made it into his opening stretch of down-tempo, acoustic-based numbers.
And yes, positioned alongside a set-opening rendition of “The Golden Age” from 2002’s similarly serene Sea Change, the frontloaded Morning Phase songs were lush and beautiful, bolstered by mellow four- and five-part vocal harmonies and at least three acoustic guitars apiece. But as great as all the new stuff sounded, were we to get a taste of the combustible hip-hoppy funk and anti-folk tunes that made Beck famous? Were we to see the boyish dance moves and oddball charisma that made this guy a giant in the ’90s? In a word, yes. In two words, hell yes.
As veteran show-goers, The Spin typically groans at the thought of standing through a bloated four-band bill. However, our curiosity concerning show-opener Punani Huntah — first piqued nearly a year ago with the track “Attraction Kit” — was enough to pull us into Exit/In early Friday night in order to witness Nashville’s potentially only novelty dancehall act. Clad in spray-painted Tyvek coveralls, Diarrhea Planet drummer Casey Weissbuch — the Punani Huntah himself — proved himself an impressively adept MC. The spectacle was complete with a hype girl on background duties and JEFF the Brotherhood’s Jake Orrall queuing beats and liberally dropping airhorn samples what seemed like every two to three seconds.
After a long holiday weekend filled with small to medium pyrotechnics, The Spin was prepared for a little deja vu at Exit/In Monday night. We half expected to be writing “high-energy bands play to crowd of Easter Island statues” in the wake of Fucked Up's return to Music City, but Nashville came through for us, mostly, and we didn’t have to. Thanks for that! The venerable Elliston Place venue wasn’t an elbow-to-shoulder sea of slam dancers, its foamy crest dotted with intrepid crowd surfers, but at least there were lots of nodding heads, a little pogo-ing and way fewer crossed arms than at Phantogram’s show last week. At the edge of the stage, there was even a bit of a mosh pit, in which our photog took one for the team and will be sporting a split lip for the rest of the week. Heal up soon, Michael! If anyone asks, just say, “You shoulda seen Glenn Danzig.”
Happy America's Birthday Week, everybody! It's that special time of year when you have to buy Ben Franklin beers if you run into him at the bar, because it's in the Constitution. On the eve of the eve of Independence Day, The Spin celebrated in the traditional manner: seeing a buzzy electro-pop band try their damnedest to get a crowd of statues to dance at Marathon Music Works. Well, Phantogram, it was worth a shot.
There is so much to say about Friday night's Katy Perry concert at Bridgestone Arena. A singing poo Emoji! Tap-dancing cats! Cover Girl commercials! And the infamously potentially racially insensitive mummies! But before Ms. Perry and her bajillion different costumes took the triangular Illuminati beacon of a stage — and hours before she made her post-show cameo at local bar No. 308 — there was also that time when The Spin got scolded for cursing in front of a 5-year-old. What the fuck, man?
“I've told a lot of audiences that they have the best place, but I've lied to all of them,” Jeff Tweedy told a full house at the Ryman on Tuesday night. “This is the best place.” Tweedy, playing a set of songs from his forthcoming solo record under the name TWEEDY, wasn’t flanked by the lavish stage production and familiar faces he had been when he last played the Mother Church with Wilco back in 2011. And until he launched into his second set — unaccompanied as he delivered classic Wilco, Uncle Tupelo and Golden Smog tunes — there weren’t any familiar songs, either. Instead, it was all cuts from TWEEDY’s forthcoming Sukierae, an album the noted folkster put together with his son and drummer, Spencer. But fresh and foreign as the Sukierae songs and TWEEDY lineup may have been, there wasn’t a moment of the man’s set that felt … well, un-Tweedy.
The Spin has seen Elvis Costello perform as many things over the years: the seething, syllable-spitting frontman of a tightly wound unit called The Attractions, one sweltering night in 1984 at Vanderbilt's Memorial Gym; the expansive focal point of a country-rock outfit called The Confederates, consisting of former Elvis 1.0 sidemen and early producer Nick Lowe, again at Memorial in 1986; an amusingly seedy game-show host playing songs off an enormous spinning wheel some 25 years later on the stage of the Ryman. But over the course of nearly a dozen shows in 30 years, there are two things we've never seen Costello be: solo for the length of a concert, and disengaged.
Scratch one of those off the list.
All those earlier guises (or variations thereof) put in appearances Saturday night as Costello ransacked one of rock's most voluminous catalogs at the Ryman, a stage that ought to award him a plaque at this juncture. Granted, solo shows are rarely our favorite way to see an artist, and not just because they're missing the tension, sparks of inspiration and musical color that result from other players. Over the years we've seen them bring out the worst in performers, from rote recitation of past glories to shameless wallows in audience adoration.
It may come as no surprise that The Spin is ambivalent about pop music’s confessional mode. Being fans of pop’s more formalist offerings, we certainly respect the way singer-songwriters bare their bruised and aching hearts, but it could be that confessional lyrics are best disguised in musical structures that question the validity of solipsism and self-absorption. So when we say that former Murfreesboro resident Sharon Van Etten’s new, critically acclaimed full-length, Are We There, exemplifies everything great about confessional pop, it’s a tribute to her craftsmanship and a nod to the way she makes compelling art out of her angst. We made our way to the Exit/In on a muggy night, and got comfortable under the gaze of large photographs of such confessional folk-pop-country-rock figures as Neil Young and Porter Wagoner, whose version of Jack Rhodes and Joe Hayes’ country song “A Satisfied Mind” received a now-famous recasting by '60s rockers The Byrds, all before anyone ever used the term “singer-songwriter.”
Bonnaroo Sunday. The homestretch. Sun-scorched and having fully exhausted both the pleasure center and the make-wordsy-writings portion of our brain, The Spin had the finishing line — what would turn out to be a marathon performance from Sir Elton John — in our sights. All we needed to do was drag our sore, tender asses from tent to tent for 12 more hours. As it turns out, most of the day's sets would match our own mood — somewhat languid and largely laid-back, but generally feelin' groovy — even if there was a killer, high-octane set from hometown heroes Those Darlins thrown into the mix.
About a third of the way through Elton John’s closing performance at Bonnaroo on Sunday night, The Spin was asked if EJ's set list was front-loaded with all of his best songs, or if he just had that many hits. The answer, of course, is that he’s just got that many hits. That’s the great thing about legacy acts: Their songs have permeated the lives of millions over decades, and audience members have the fun of not only sharing in a literally awesome communal experience wherein you become one of tens of thousands singing along to “Bennie and the Jets,” but also of making phenomenal memories. Like the bro we saw singing along to “Tiny Dancer” and holding back tears. Like the gay couple near us whose jaws dropped in druggy glee when Ben Folds was introduced to play along with “Grey Seal.” Like the guy on the giant screens who was filmed crowd-surfing at a damn Elton John concert. Even Elton himself said it was his “First ever festival in America.” Oh, Bonnaroo.
It is widespread knowledge that this hick serviced Jack. If you can't take the heat,…
Stick Batman up your ass Robin!
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This is why they are so sad. Theses guys are horrible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD6rKhzV_m0