I got to the Exit In way too early, joining the other 10 people who thought the show might actually start around 9. On the plus side, I got the perfect balcony seat for what was about to unfold. It seemed like I had the right idea as the upper level filled up, only to empty onto the floor as the first band took the stage.
Nashville's own Ramones style punk duo Jeff the Brotherhood started the night off. Their "less is more" approach worked well for their music while they took the opposite attitude towards their stage show. The addition of bright lights on the floor and fog machines, as well as prerecorded music in between songs made this twosome more than just a Franklin garage band. They rocked their songs out to their loyal followers as they climbed the teetering amp stack and bounced around the stage. The upbeat music was a nice surprise from these guys, who, at first looked like the rock and roll version of the Hanson brothers (the hockey players, not the mmm boppers). They set just the right tone for the rest of the night.
As soon as the second band struck their first chord, I could tell the night was still heading in the right direction. Turbo Fruits came on with a sound that was kind of a punk/rockabilly without being punkabilly. The singer's raspy growl and the constant overdrive made these chord progressions fit in with tonight's feel, instead of otherwise belonging at the "Enchantment Under the Sea" dance. The non-stop bangin' drummer drove the set full steam ahead as the others mingled with the crowd. At one point, the guitarist/singer threw his guitar around a cute girl in the crowd and played a solo from behind her. Pretty good idea, as the guys continued to set a tone of crowd participation and chaos.
As I eavesdropped on the people around me relaying their past experiences with the headliners, I realized what storm might be approaching. Clues like the sound man covering the monitors with garbage bags and the drummer setting up on the floor in front of the stage indicated that this would not be your typical Exit In event. After taking for-ever to set up a small amount of gear, Monotonix started to make some noise. As the guitarist played a feed-back driven solo, the undersized singer and lanky bassist crowd surfed down to the floor topless in their short shorts and wild curly hair. With the continuing noise, they proceeded to drench each other and everyone else around them in beer and scum, completely emptying the trash can of all bottles, cans, and fowl bottom of the barrel garbage liquid, and then rolling around on the floor. As they broke into their first song, the crowd went ape. More bottles, cans and drinks of all kinds were thrown on the band and everywhere else. I could only think to myself, "this is gonna get out of control fast." As these Israeli Tasmanian Devils mauled us with their brand of thrash trash metal, the crowd formed a rugby scrum-like mosh pit around them. They seemed to encourage some pretty intense audience contact, brushing off drunk slammers with forearm shivers and stiff arms. As songs would end, the drummer would recruit fans to help move his drums all around the club. At one point, the guitarist had the bass drum on top of the bar while the drummer played the rest of his kit in the middle of the crowd. At another point, the singer sat on a stool held by fans and played a drum also held by fans all while spitting and shooting snot rockets wherever they might blow. As the singer dangled, then dropped from the balcony, a super drunk and drenched mosher got a little too fresh and they ended up in a tangled mess on the floor. A hush fell over the crowd as he manhandled this mutant while screaming "Don't f@#$ with the Israeli!" After the victim got a death glare and his friends dragged him away, the band went back into fun mode and regrouped on the stage. The singer demanded everyone sit down and shut up and stay seated while he sang alone. When the full band cranked back up, the crowd exploded back into pollution action and helped end the show with a sludge soaked, hunched over series of gut screams.
The crowd participation definitely made this show unique. The fans that had seen Monotonix before knew exactly what they could get away with and the newbies seemed pleasantly surprised to find that they could actually pour their beers on the band and it was okay. Honestly, I have never seen such a gross misuse of beer and liquor in all my life, nor such a musical act of depravity and recklessness. The amount of booze on the floor at the end of the night could have sustained an Irish slip n' slide. The great part about this show is that as indecipherable as the lyrics were, I saw people singing along like they were Beatles standards. The degenerates who perpetrated this melee were loyal fans. It was almost like they were obligated to be part of the show, like the band needed them. As violent and rabid as the scene was, when it was over, everyone hugged each other and the band like they were U2 finishing a stadium tour. What a great show. I recommend seeing this band not only if you get a chance, but every chance you get. Just be ready for a show like you have never seen before.