Tonight I figured it had been too long since I had seen a show so I made the pilgrimage to the Exit In to see the Mean Tambourines. I had heard about this band and was interested to see for myself. What I found was a sea of tight jeans and stand-still hipsters.
I showed up about halfway through the Astronomers' set. This foursome was the most entertaining of the night with their choreographed stage moves and dance style beats. Their drummer seemed to drag a little, but he had to be tired from playing fast 16ths for the majority of the show. The chick bass player was easily the coolest part of the band playing her solid unique bass lines effortlessly while bouncing around the stage. Their lead guitar player seemed a little more interested in "performing" and adjusting his fanny pack than being any good but the overall set was fun. I was confused when they announced that they had two songs left and then totally switched to a whiny Coldplay style for their finale. I would have thought that if they had to do those downers, they would at least put them in the middle of the set and then finish strong, but I guess they figured they would leave the kids with something to dwell on.
After a long set up, the Mean Tambourines finally took the stage and went right into their set of quick hitting brit rock. The singer/rhythm guitarist Ryan Truso started off with some good energy but after a couple of songs, he seemed to mellow out to the crowd's level and pretty much mailed in the rest of the show. No "thank yous" or "this song is called", just bang bang song after song filled with heeeeeeeyyyyy ooooohhhhhhh refrains and poppy vocals. Gabe Pigg on the other hand was on fire for the whole set on the drums making very similar songs all sound like individuals and bobbing up and down back there with a fury. The other lead guitarist Austin Brown and the bass player Chris Boyle just sort of stood there looking cool but not really inspiring much awe. By the end of the set, the audience was still just standing there in their Chuck Taylors and spotty bleach jobs still seemingly unaffected. I can see these guys having a much different vibe with a crowd that gave off a little more energy. Tuesday night in Nashville is hard to get a rise out of anyone, especially if most of the fans are drinking Cokes and water.
With an introduction from their drunk buddy, and a pre-recorded over done opera sample, Halo Stereo took the stage and blasted off. They had some good songs and they definitely rocked out the In. I did get a little tired of the drum machine intro to every song. Why not give it a break every once and a while with a good old drum stick click and a one, two, three, four? This theme of "too much gear" seemed to continue through their show, as they often had to pause to fix their wireless monitor ear pieces or make robot voice noises. The thing was that their rock could actually stand on its own, so why bother with all the bells and whistles? The lead guitarist Nathan Macdonald reminded me a lot of Pearl Jam's Mike McCready the way he shredded his solos and added his flare to otherwise run of the mill rock songs and the drummer Brian Meeks was rowdy and tight. This band was polished, their songs were fun, but these guys really didn't inspire much awe, again due to an under zealous crowd. Hopefully they will draw a better reaction on their upcoming tour.