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.
We admit it — The Spin definitely has a thing for the way great rock 'n’ roll pits opposing forces against each other. When it’s done right, the marriage of opposites can produce something like what we saw Friday night at Mercy Lounge, where Those Darlins celebrated the release of their new full-length Blur the Line. Being longtime fans of the Darlins, The Spin got off on the way the Nashville rock group has updated their music by subtly changing their band dynamic.
They’re a classic rock-guitar quartet, with the intertwined axes of Nikki Kvarnes and Jessi Zazu making room for Nikki’s drolly psychedelic melodicism and Jessi’s combination of rhythm and lead. Throw in the stoic but expressive drumming of Linwood Regensburg with new bassist Adrian Barrera’s in-the-pocket playing, and the result is a band who balances rock ‘n’ roll classicism with idiosyncratic expression.
When The Spin first heard of Atoms for Peace back in 2010, we thought the lineup had to be some kind of joke — as in, “Radiohead’s frontman, their producer, the bass player from The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and two A-list drummers walk into a bar.” Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich (aka “the guy who Sir Paul likes because he says ‘no’”), Flea and the percussion dream team of Joey Waronker and Mauro Refusco piqued our curiosity with their official debut, Amok, an intricate crazy-quilt of layered textures and skittering dot-dash rhythms, released early this spring and pulled from Spotify this summer. Sounds great on the ol’ earbuds, but how are they going to pull this off live? It isn’t going to be one of those “press play and flail around” things, is it? Thursday night, we cruised past the folks taking selfies in the dramatic lighting of the War Memorial’s venerable columns, and took up our post near the sound booth.
Something weird happened Monday night at the Ryman, where Blondie and X were mounting a pan-American summit meeting of first-generation punk and New Wave. We swear, just a minute ago, it was 1983 and The Spin was standing outside the Exit/In, waiting for the Emergency Broadcast System alarm to stop ringing in our throbbing ears. Inside, this X group from Los Angeles was still hammering away at jet-engine decibels, bashing the hell out of The Doors' "Soul Kitchen" and professing their love for honky-tonk music in between fits of the rawest, fastest, most deafening music we'd ever heard. We were young and we had cassette players and we had 120 Minutes to watch and we didn't have jobs and we had just enough money for Mack's Country Kitchen and rotgut coffee and import records at the West End Cat's and life was sweet.
So we heard the salvo of high-speed riffage that opens "Your Phone Is off the Hook, but You're Not" and settled in. Only wait. The music was loud and raw and familiar, but the people playing it looked ... different. Older. And the audience! Who were all these Cryptkeepers in their 50s? We even saw some of the same people — only they'd somehow turned into their parents! That's why we caught sight of our own crinkling hands, and the ridiculous fat suit someone had sewed us into. These were punks! This was a punk show! Weren't we supposed to die before we got old?
The crowd that gathered on to see Mudhoney ranged from fans old enough to have seen the band in 1989 to fashionable youths barely old enough to drink. (We arrived just in time to see the headliner; bands we missed include Nashville's own Cheap Time, but The Spin caught 'em with Mudhoney the night before at Third Man Records.) Once again, Mudhoney live sounded like the Mudhoney we know from their records — bluesy punk rock with lots of mean riffs, distortion and reverb. The band sounded powerful, and Mark Arm gave a great, energetic performance, sing-screaming through songs such as "Slipping Away,” “You Got It,” “Suck You Dry” and “No One Has.”
Mudhoney briefly left the stage, then returned for an encore that included “The Money Will Roll Right In” and, once again, their cover of The Dicks' "Hate the Police." Arm concluded by telling us “Everyone should go home right now, 'cause there's a lot of drinking to do tomorrow.” (He hung out on the sidewalk for a while afterward, chatting with fans and signing memorabilia.)
It's been seven years since Icelandic post-rockers (and Game of Thrones extras in training) Sigur Rós performed in Nashville — having last sold out the Ryman on Valentine's Day, 2006, in a matter of minutes. By all regards, it was the kind of spectacle performance that lucky attendees/smug jerks have been falling all over themselves to praise ever since, building into a fever pitch that finally broke on Friday night when Sigur Rós, at long last, returned to town. It's not that we were totally skeptical, but seven years of hype is a helluva high bar.
The Spin sauntered down Korean Veterans Boulevard toward The Lawn at Riverfront Park on Saturday, nerves steeled for long lines and short tempers. We shouldn’t have worried. In sharp contrast to hitches at the recent AmericanaramA, the organizational side of things at Zac Brown’s second annual Southern Ground Music and Food Festival was on par with last year’s, if not even better. Maybe the smoke didn’t smell quite right for a music festival, but we’re not ones to argue with the heavenly scent of roasted meat, wafting by while we staked out our spot. Even the sun got with the program, settling right on the opposite side of Pinnacle Tower for the duration of Willie Nelson’s suppertime set.
in Burdon's defense, touring can be a bit rougher when you're 72. Charles "Wigg" Walker…
Touring is hard work. NOT!!
Thanks for the song clip. I signed up for Third Man Records' Vault Package for…
Word, those Churchyard gals are great. Thanks for the note, Jessi — post updated.