Tonight, in an attempt to get off of what could be described as my lazy ass, I hopped down to see some local talent at the Exit In. Knowing that two of the three bands playing were headed to Bonnaroo via the Road To Bonnaroo contest, I figured I'd check them out for seven bucks instead of hundreds and a marathon of drugs and exercise. These bands have made a pretty good name for themselves around town and I was glad to get a chance to see them.
Although I thought I was showing up fashionably late, I got there early enough to catch most of the set from Nashville's How I Became the Bomb. The first thing I thought about these guys is that they sounded like the Cure might sound the day after having been laid. Their spacey 80's sound was upbeat and almost as fun as their outfits. With a singer dressed like cousin Eddy with moves like the John Lovitz character from the Wedding Singer, it seemed like their dancey pop songs were merely a vehicle for showing off how weird they could try to be. The fedora crowd appeared to love it and it was a good kick-off to the night in store.
The second band was a powerhouse trio from Louisville called Wax Fang. It was good to see a band that was there to just be themselves and rock out. I could tell they were going to do so when, in the first half of their first song, they blew an amplifier, broke a kick drum pedal, and dropped a sampler. The drummer did have a lot of extra electronic gear that he never seemed to use. Most of it bounced off of the stand due to the unstable drum riser at the In. I was glad he didn't waste much time on this stuff as he was a great rowdy rock drummer. All three members of this band did a good job of making enough noise to fill in some of the spaces that might otherwise be left open due to a lack of members. I also liked the fuzz box on the bass, adding a Cream-y effect to the sound.
The night's headliners were the Non-Commissioned Officers, a dapper 6-piece that was kind of a combination of the first two bands. They had a friendly rapport with the crowd that made the set a lot of fun. It was good to see a band that didn't take themselves too seriously, but still played quality music. This approach made them strike me as the Mile 8 of the hipster scene. Their songs were powerful but refreshingly short, ending right when you would expect another verse and chorus. I like this concept, leaving them wanting more instead of going on like a bad SNL sketch that needed to end four minutes ago. Also, this is a great way to jam a boatload of songs into a 45 minute set. A funny moment came a few seconds into the last songs of the night when one guitar player stopped the song completely insisting that "one of these bastards needs to tune", only to find that he was the one that was horribly off key. It was another example of their light-hearted attitude mixed with their knock out rock assault.
These bands stand to have shows of a lifetime at Bonnaroo. How I Became the Bomb will probably shake the dark rimmed glasses right off of the tweekers' faces while the Non-Comms will throw a great side-stage party that will no doubt be a festival-worthy set to revive the Kings Of Leon/Dave Matthews sleepers. Congratulations to these guys for being the best Nashville has to offer the biggest festival in the south.