Regina Spektor Show Re-Rescheduled for Feb. 27

December 8th, 2007 by Lance

Let’s see how long this one sticks. The ill fated Regina Spektor Nashville show has gotten one more (and hopefully final) date. According to a press release from Big Hassle, Regina’s publicist, the show has been scheduled for February 27th at the Ryman. All of the old tickets, presumably for both cancelled shows, will be honored and refunds are available to those who seek them.

There’s no word yet on who would open, since I don’t think Only Son will be on for those last four cancelled shows. Maybe she’ll do a Tom Waits sort of thing and play for 3 hours without an opener. I kinda expect something to make up for the two non-shows, but I’d be just as happy with being able to see her play (finally).

Bonnaroo 2008 Scheduled for June

December 7th, 2007 by Lance

Clear your schedules and start working on your gross white dude dreadlocks, 2008’s Bonnaroo has been officially scheduled for June 12th through June 15th next year. The music festival is located in Manchester, TN, about a hour or so south of Nashville and can be both the best and most horrific time of your life depending on how you play it.

As for who’s playing, that’s all a matter of conjecture at this point. The legit line-up usually doesn’t get announced until January or February, but we’ve already seen some rumors come and go. The recently reunited Led Zeppelin and Metallica were both rumored as headliners care of some “industry memo” (internet code for elaborate ruse) and the fact that former Zep Bassist John Paul Jones played in this year’s SuperJam with ?Love and Ben Harper (not the gangly Comfie, the other one). I missed that show in favor of either Girl Talk or Aesop Rock, but the hippies who did see it assure me that it was some kind of religious experience. Either way, it’s not happening.

Though those two have been quashed by Bonnaroo’s promoters, there’s still one lingering rumor from last year: Pearl Jam. Bassist Jeff Ament apparently let slip that the band will be playing at Bonnaroo in 2008 when he was speaking to a class at University of Montana.

That’s about all we know at this point. We also know that Radiohead won’t be playing since they’ve got European dates booked all through out June. We’ll update with new information as it comes.

Political Theater in a Warehouse, Care of Ian MacKaye

December 3rd, 2007 by Lance

Blogger Side-Note: I’ve got a healthy backlog of reviews for shows that I haven’t been able to write yet due to illness and exams, but I’m going to try to get the new reviews up by the end of next week. Expect photos and words about Man Man, Aesop Rock, Feist and The Protomen.

The Evens #13
(photos by Lance Conzett)

It isn’t often that a band manages to break free entirely of the Nashville music scene. The Evens didn’t just break free; they escaped from the prison, swam to safety and established its own society on a nearby island. Everything about the show was unlike anything I’ve seen in Nashville and I have to say, it’s about damn time. The most obvious difference of them all was the fact that they didn’t technically play in a venue. Instead, they performed at a small place near the zoo I had never heard of called Gallery Mystique.

Gallery Mystique is little more than a warehouse that’s, quite literally, on the wrong side of the tracks near the zoo. Twenty minutes of waiting for a train to pass can attest to that. It’s a barren cinderblock building with an industrial strength heater and two large fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling. None of the three were on. Instead, the stage was lit by two house lamps and a string of desk lights clamped to a pipe that ran against the wall. A single floor heater was set up near where coffee was being served to heat the place—although there was enough body heat to make it comfortable. The entire affair felt like I, and a few dozen others, had wandered into a band’s practice space and they just rolled with it. One of the first things Ian MacKaye said to us was “if you weren’t here, we’d be rehearsing. Let’s make a show together.” This would be a recurring theme; a communal punk rock solidarity that reminds everyone who has the real power and who’s just singing some songs.

As for the show itself, The Evens put on the best punk show I’ve seen since the first time Against Me played in Nashville, way back in 2003 at The Muse. Ian MacKaye is a man who has become something of legend in the punk community. He was a childhood friend of Henry Rollins, rose to prominence as the singer and main lyricist in Minor Threat, often cited as the founder of the straight edge movement and later established Dischord Records to release records from artists in Washington D.C. MacKaye is probably most famous for Fugazi, a major force in post-hardcore music and one of the few bands that lived their ethos instead of just preaching it. When you get a band with Ian MacKaye in it, you’re going to get overwhelming sincerity.

That’s lucky for us, because without sincerity, this show would have died an unceremonious death before it had even started. Through out the show, MacKaye kept us in the conversation as much as possible. During “You Won’t Feel a Thing, a political anthem about how one day America will wake up and take a stand against the government’s abuses of power, MacKaye bid us to join in on an “epic chorus fade-out.” At the end of the song, the lyric “until the day you wake up” gradually overtook the entire crowd and (with everyone singing along) it faded until the repeating lyric was a whisper. MacKaye explained before the song that it was like the passage of an idea going from person to person until we all know what’s up. It’s also a hell of a way to convey an image.

The Evens #7The rest of the set was filled with the same sort of thing, MacKaye chatting with the crowd about how absurd applause is when you think about it—leading to most of the songs being greeted with tongue clicks, getting us to sing along to lyrics like “the police will not be excused” and generally commending us for being switched on and willing to hang out in a cold warehouse early on a Friday night.

What was even cooler than MacKaye’s humbleness and passion for political punk rock was the fact that the show was all ages. In Nashville there are only three all ages venues. There’s the renovated church that only books hardcore acts, the uncomfortable and sterile RCKTWN (too cool for vowels) and The Muse, which has long past its glory days. None of these places really play all ages shows; they just provide places where parents can dump their kids for the night. Here, at a place that isn’t really a venue, the band brought together people truly of all ages (including a little girl who couldn’t have been older than 6). This is the kind of show that Nashville doesn’t get often and it’s a tragedy that the music scene has become so hamstringed by legislation that shows like these have become practically impossible.

Now that the precedent has been set, I can only hope that more Plan-It-X folk/punk bands come to town and play in warehouses. This Bike is a Pipe Bomb, Ghost Mice and Defiance, Ohio are all welcome in Nashville. If the turnout is anything like The Evens, punk crowds will pack any warehouse these bands play in. Not only that, but they’ll actually listen instead of beating each other senseless to a soundtrack.

Regina Spektor’s Ryman Gig Postponed (Again)

December 1st, 2007 by Lance

If you were excited about getting to see Regina Spektor on December 6th after her unfortunate bout with vertigo pushed off her last Nashville gig, you’re going to have to change your plans again. The Ryman sent out an e-mail last night to those who bought tickets for the original show saying that the show has been postponed once again. This time, they haven’t said when except that it’ll be sometime next year.

While this is bad news for anyone looking forward to seeing Regina sometime in 2007, at least her show doesn’t coincide with finals anymore. The entire e-mail from the Ryman can be read after the jump.

Continue reading ‘Regina Spektor’s Ryman Gig Postponed (Again)’

Really Big Shows: Weekend of November 30th

November 29th, 2007 by Lance

I’m sick and hopped up on Tylenol PM, but that doesn’t mean I’m too incapacitated to point out what a big weekend this is.

THE PROTOMEN (Saturday at The End)
One of Murfreesboro’s most unique bands is playing a show this weekend at The End where they may be debuting some new songs. The Protomen’s first album is a Mega Man inspired rock opera that is probably one of the best albums put out by a local band. They put on a theatrical show backed up with intensity and, frankly, damn good music. Unlike theatrical acts like KISS, they’re not covering up for bad songwriting with flashy gimmicks. If you live in Nashville and like music, you need to see the Protomen at least once. Word has it that the band is working on their long awaited second album which may be released sometime next year. They’ve been playing some of the new songs on the tour but I can’t say whether or not they compare to the first record. Opening are Mother Father (ex-Scatter the Ashes members) and frequent Proto-collaborator and the man who remixed the last album, Make-Up and Vanity Set (aka M. Pusti). The show starts at 9:30PM and cover is a mere 7 bucks.

Here’s a YouTube video from a show they did at The End in April 2006. If you look really hard, you might see my fist wildly pumping in the air.

THE FEATURES (Saturday at Sweetwater)
This is going to be a hard decision to make. While the Protomen are fighting for our freedom in Nashville, The Features and an exceptional line-up of openers will be performing in the somewhat shady Murfreesboro club Sweetwater. Usually a show in Murfreesboro means 21+ but Sweetwater is apparently the only venue in town that’s still 18+. By now, you should all know the Features and their trademark organ rock. This band is so good that I’ve seen them five times this year alone and I’m thinking of making it a sixth with this show. Opening are The Kindergarten Circus and Velcro Stars. Velcro Stars is an indie pop band reminiscent of Spongebath Records (Self, Fluid Ounces, etc.) and classic indie rock bands like Pavement and Superdrag. They don’t play often, but they are always a joy to see. Kindergarten Circus will blow your mind. I saw them at Next Big Nashville and scoffed at the idea of 15 year old kids playing blues rock. Then they started playing and I ate my hat. They’re extremely talented. Show is at 9PM and the cover is $10.

BEN LEE (Sunday at Exit/In)
1/3 of The Bens (the other two being Folds and Kweller), Ben Lee is about what you would expect from someone who took part of that supergroup. He’s a talented Australian singer songwriter who tends to put an indie pop spin on his songs, which lead to interesting results. His most recent release was in August 2007 when he covered the entirety of Against Me!’s dreadful latest album New Wave and posted it on his blog. That’s the kind of challenging experiments that Ben Lee does and I would expect the same sort of thing to come out in his performances. Opening for him are Cary Brothers and Kate Voegele. Doors open at 8PM and tickets are $12.

JOSE GONZALEZ (Sunday at Mercy Lounge)
This Swedish born Argentinian has been called the successor to Nick Drake’s subdued folk throne. And for good reason too, Jose Gonzalez has made quite a name for himself with his minimalist singer-songwriter tunes over the last couple of years. His classical guitar take on “Heartbeats” netted him a great deal of publicity and his debut album Veneer is one of the best records of 2003, although it didn’t get an American release until 2005. Given the choice between Ben Lee and Jose Gonzalez, I would pick Jose simply because he’s an international touring act and who knows when he’ll be back in America, especially with performer visas becoming a rare commodity these days. Fans of Elliott Smith and Nick Drake need to stand up and take notice. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 on the day of the show, opening for him is Cass McCombs. Show’s at 9PM.

Paste Magazine Using the Radiohead Philosophy

November 20th, 2007 by Lance

It isn’t quite as well known as Rolling Stone, Spin or any of the other music rags occupying space on supermarket magazine racks, but Paste Magazine is doing something to stand out from its better known brethren. Clearly influenced by Radiohead’s In Rainbows stunt, they’re offering a year’s subscription for as little as a dollar. They’re asking you to pay however much you want to get 11 issues starting in about 4 months or so.

Paste is a magazine which tends to stick to articles about indie rock and Americana music and has covered bands like The Shins, The Hold Steady, Aimee Mann, The Roots and others. What’s cool about Paste is that in every issue, they include a CD or DVD filled with new music or (in the case of the DVD) short films, music videos, trailers and other assorted video stuff.

The deal ends on Thursday, so I recommend that you hop on it quickly. They give you the option of giving a subscription as a gift, so you can get all of your shopping done now. But don’t tell your friends that you only spent a dollar on their gift. They won’t appreciate the bargain.

Smashing Pumpkins Speak to the Sullen Teenager Inside Us All

November 19th, 2007 by Lance

Smashing Pumpkins #11
(photos by Lance Conzett)

When Billy Corgan announced that the Smashing Pumpkins would be getting back together after their break up in 2000, I responded with immediate chagrin. I knew from the get go that James Iha would never return to the band and that D’arcy Wretzky had disappeared into the 90s rock & roll abyss along with Krist Novoselic and the entirety of Soundgarden. And at any rate, Corgan’s last word on her was to call her a “mean-spirited drug addict.” So, you can see how that would strain attempts to legitimately get the band back together. How can you really call the band “Smashing Pumpkins” when only Billy and Jimmy Chamberlain are going to be in it? Isn’t that just Zwan Mach II? We’ve all seen what happens when a band returns from the ashes to capitalize off a much beloved name, and the result isn’t pretty. Guns ‘N Roses, I’m looking at you.

When I did buy a ticket, I could feel in my bones that I was making a fool’s gamble. Even if the band played Siamese Dream beginning to end, would it still be the same? At least I would have Explosions in the Sky to look forward to. Initially, Explosions in the Sky, one of Austin’s most exciting bands, was the opening act for the southeastern leg of the Pumpkins tour. They’ve made post-rock more palatable to mainstream music lovers by performing the score to Friday Night Lights and appearing on an episode of Austin City Limits with The Decemberists. They were born for live performances and, reportedly, put on devastatingly emotional, complex shows that would have easily given Smashing Pumpkins a run for their money. Not to mention that their 2003 record The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place was one of the first records I bought on vinyl.

I had only just been able to come to terms with my sense of dread when the band announced that it would be postponing its final week or so of dates due to a heart condition that was developing in drummer Jimmy Chamberlain. Six days later on November 11, 2007, the band descended upon the Ryman Auditorium along with a band that was most definitely not Explosion in the Sky.

Opening for the Pumpkins instead was another Austin band called What Made Milwaukee Famous, a fairly generic indie rock four piece. The band had tinges of post-Maladroit Weezer and Showbiz era Muse in their sound, but being derivative of two bands not quite at their peak isn’t very impressive. The crowd shared my apathy, which became evident from occasional shouts of “who are you?” and “Billy Corgan!” Conversations in the crowd carried on as loudly as they would during intermission and the overall feeling was one of indifference. But, they did almost win me about halfway into the set when they started playing a cover of “Cherub Rock.” What massive cajones this band must have to cover one of the headliner’s best known songs (and, traditionally, their closing number) on their first date on the tour. Then they transitioned into their far less interesting song and I lost interest again. They were a perfectly competent band, but only being competent makes for an unsatisfactory replacement for Explosions in the Sky.

Smashing Pumpkins #29I had no idea what to expect from a Smashing Pumpkins show, the last time that they played Nashville it was 1998. During the set, Corgan told the story of their last appearance here, which was bizarrely enough at the Grand Ole Opry. At the show, they were told that they weren’t allowed to play electric, so the went forward with an entirely acoustic set. It seemed like the band was trying to make up for the noise that they couldn’t make last time with their Ryman set. On the positive side, they played easily the most raucous show I’ve ever seen at the Ryman. When Corgan hit the first chord in “United States,” it felt like I’d been struck by lightning and it no longer mattered that it was only really half of Smashing Pumpkins. But, on the other hand, every song seemed to have a distorted bridge that existed only to create more improvised noise. These bridges were most noticeable on songs that were already very long; “Heavy Metal Machine” felt like it was 3 hours long.

It may be irrational of me, but I blame some of the extended solos for the deficits in the setlist, which was heavily packed with new, obscure and otherwise unheard songs that only diehards would really know or appreciate. Corgan started out solo with three songs that have only seen life on the current tour and later played a song with the full band, “Superchrist,” which has never been recorded. Other songs like “Lucky 13” and “Drown” have only been heard on singles or greatest hits compilations, although “Drown” was a fairly popular pseudo-single at its time. Out of the 21 song set, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Siamese Dream were represented by a mere 3 songs each.

Smashing Pumpkins Setlist

01. I Don’t Mind
02. The Leaving Lament
03. The Rose March
04. United States
05. Bullet with Butterfly Wings
06. Drown
07. Bring the Light
08. Tonight, Tonight
09. Tarantula
10. That’s the Way (My Love Is)
11. Lucky 13
12. Hummer
13. Glass + The Ghost Children
14. 1979
15. Perfect
16. To Sheila
17. Today
18. Superchrist
19. Heavy Metal Machine
20. Pomp and Circumstances
21. Cherub Rock

For that matter, it seemed like some of the more esoteric songs like “We Only Come Out At Night” and “Stumbleline” were sacrificed for songs more fitting for these inexplicable rock out sessions. Some of the best parts of the show were the parts where the band took it down a notch. A little over halfway into the show, the band disappeared so that Corgan could play “1979” and “Perfect” acoustically and he was incredible. I could have done without some of those distortion breakdowns if it meant room for “Zero,” “Disarm” or literally anything off of Gish—an album completely unrepresented in the setlist.

Despite a setlist that left something to be desired, Smashing Pumpkins still have it. Or at least Corgan and Chamberlin still have it, while the new band members are no less than adequate replacements for the missing members. The crowd, unfortunately, wasn’t nearly as amped up as I expected. I figured that by the time Corgan hit the chorus in “Bullet with Butterfly Wings, a full scale riot would have broken out. Pews would be overturned, folding chairs would be flying and no less than 10 people in the crowd would have been hospitalized by the unfolding chaos—although when they woke from their respective comas, they’d agree that they’d do it all over again. By the end of the chorus, I expected the Ryman to be on fire. Unfortunately, latent “Nashville cool” seeped in and helped propel the show’s mediocrity. The audience is as much part of the concert as the band is. As Ian MacKaye said later that week at The Evens’ show, “if you weren’t here, we would be rehearsing; let’s make a show together.”

Smashing Pumpkins were good in the most frustrating way. They’re clearly still talented and they clearly still have a grasp on the old songs, but a combination of the setlist and the borderline uncomfortable atmosphere in the Ryman knocked it down to average. But, it did make my inner sullen junior high student happy and that’s all I could have hoped for.

Really Big Shows: Weekend of November 16th

November 15th, 2007 by Lance

There’s a bunch of CD Release shows going on around town this weekend, but I’ll get to those in a moment. There’s something more important that needs to be mentioned before local band stuff.

THE EVENS (Friday at Gallery Mystique)
If you’ve never heard of Gallery Mystique, you’re not alone. This is apparently the first (and perhaps the last) show that they’ve ever held. The Evens have a very particular standard for venues that they play in, so they tend to be churches and art galleries. The Evens are Ian MacKaye’s latest band. MacKaye is a legend in the punk scene, he was a constant mainstay in the D.C. hardcore punk with his band Minor Threat and later founded Dischord Records to release records by bands in the area (recently they’ve put out albums by bands like Q & Not U) including Fugazi, an immensely influential post-hardcore band during the 90s. Fugazi has gone on indefinite hiatus and now MacKaye is playing in this folk/punk duo along with drummer Amy Farina. They’re a bit like a low-key version of Against Me! or This Bike is a Pipe Bomb. This is a band worth seeing, just based on MacKaye’s involvement alone. The show starts promptly at 8:30. They’re not screwing around here, so don’t be late. It costs $5 to get in, the address is 3653-C Trousdale Dr. I suggest you Mapquest it, word has it that the place is in a warehouse.

Dixie Whiskey and Armed Forces are holding a joint CD release show at The End. I don’t know much about Armed Forces, but Dixie Whiskey is a Pink Spiders side-project which also features Caitlin Rose from Save Macauley: The Band and some other guys who I don’t remember. Either way, they’re something of a hardline, fightin’ and drinkin’ (not necessarily in that order) country band far removed from the pop country Nashville sound. They’re more like Hank III or Unknown Hinson with a darkly comedic take on the genre. Also playing are The Comfies (who are usually pretty good, but beware the bad jokes) and The Outlaw Lovers. Doors open conveniently at 9PM, so if you catch the Evens then you can make this show too. It costs $10 if you want both of the CDs being released or $5 if you just want to get in. The first thing sounds like a pretty good deal.

WAX FANG (Friday at The Basement)
Another local band, Wax Fang, is holding their very own release show across town at The Basement. Like all Basement shows, this one’s 21+ and I don’t think you get a free record, but Wax Fang was pretty good when I saw them at Next Big Nashville. They’re a bit of a improv indie rock band, although they did reign it in quite a bit during their NBN set. Opening is Hotpipes, a straight-forward indie rock band with a fair amount of charisma on their side. The show starts at 9PM and costs 5 bucks.

GYPSY POMPE (Friday at Cafe Coco)
Want to break your show hopping record for the night? After the Evens, jump between The End and the free show in the back of Cafe Coco. They play at 11PM. Gypsy Pompe is a gypsy style jazz group which includes Zander Wyatt, a former Belmont student. Incidentally, we worked together at Bonaroo this year scanning tickets. Fans of Django Reinhardt and others should check it out.

AMERICAN BANG (Saturday at Exit/In)
You’ve seen them on those Verizon commercials, you know the one, which frankly is weird as hell, now you can catch them live. The artists formerly known as Bang Bang Bang are headlining a gig at Exit/In with Dead Confederate in a night that’s sure to be filled with Americana induced rock & roll. I saw them back in January with The Features at that crazy sold out show at Cannery and they were pretty good. They’re worth checking out if you want to catch a rising star.

MAN MAN (Sunday at Mercy Lounge)
The other must see show of the weekend. Man Man is would happen if feral orphans let loose in New Orleans were raised on burglary and Tom Waits records. Which is coincidental since they just signed to Waits’ record label, Anti. The band plays creepy, vaguely Eastern European songs that are as catchy as they are strange. I caught them a few months ago at Mercy Lounge and thought it was one of the best shows I’d seen all year. Several months later, they still rank in the Top 5. The show starts at 9:30 (although it may be a while, there’s a DJ spinning before they play) and costs $12 at the door.

That’s about it. Be sure to catch Aesop Rock on Monday, it’ll probably be the best hip-hop show you’ll see all year.

Regina Spektor Collapses on Stage; Postpones Show

November 14th, 2007 by Lance

Didn’t get to make the Regina Spektor show tonight? Well, neither did a couple thousand people in the Ryman. About a hour after doors opened, the Ryman’s marketing manager Brian Wagner came out to inform the crowd that Regina would not be performing tonight.

According to Wagner, Regina collapsed during the sound check and was immediately rushed to the hospital. After some examination, it was apparently determined that she had an inner-ear problem that affected her equilibrium. Though she was willing to come back to the Ryman and play, her doctor wouldn’t allow it. Neither she, nor opening group Only Son played and we all went home early.

Wagner says that they’re planning on rescheduling the show on December 6th, although be aware that the date has not yet been set in stone. Ticket stubs for tonight will be honored on the rescheduled date and refunds are available for those who want them at the Ryman box-office. Refund requests must come no later than noon on December 5th. Or, I suppose if the date changes again, noon the day before the show.

As for the rest of Regina’s tour, including tomorrow’s date in Atlanta, those shows are still up in the air. Wagner said that the rest of the shows may go on, but he didn’t have any definite answers. Check out her website and MySpace for further details if you happen to have tickets for other shows on the tour.

12th & Porter’s Biannual Shut Down

November 14th, 2007 by Lance

Once again, former indie venue du jour 12th & Porter has apparently closed down once again. According to Nashville Cream, word on the street is that the venue is down for the count for unspecified reasons. Though last night’s Dixie Whiskey show went off without a hitch, the PA is gone and the bar was down to the bare essentials, so it seems like they’ve known that they were going down this road for a while.

The venue, originally owned by Jodi Faison (a guy who was single-handedly making Nashville cool again), has gone through rough times lately. Most recently, the venue was closed down and seized by the state department of revenue due to non-payment of taxes. It eventually opened back up, so it’s conceivable that the venue will have new life in the future.

Shows formerly booked at the Porter, mainly showcases, have been sent scrambling and many may end up at Mercy Lounge.

December 2007