Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hayseed Dixie

Tonight I went to check out a band I had heard of in the past few years but never caught live. Hayseed Dixie was playing at my favorite venue, Exit In, and a couple hours at the Gold Rush put me in the perfect place for this show.

Hayseed Dixie is billed as a band that plays AC/DC songs in a bluegrass style. They sure did a lot of that, but they also played other hard rock standards, as well as a list of originals from a 10 year run. They started off with "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" and never took their foot off the throttle. They burned through other hits like "Highway To Hell" and "Hells Bells", as well as some all time classic rock greats. They switched from Queen's "Fat Bottom Girls" and "Bohemian Rhapsody", to Zep's "Black Dog", to Black Sabbath's "War Pigs", with even a little "Bad Moon Risin'" thrown in for the boomers.

For every classic cover they nailed perfectly, they had an original that was equal parts clever, smart, and musically capable. There was a song sung in all Dutch, and a few about past relationships, and they were all on par with any other bluegrass band in Nashville. They closed out the show with a rowdy version of "Dueling Banjos", which the banjo player's father allegedly wrote.

These guys were a lot of high energy, mixed with tons of talent. They were appreciative of the crowd response and seemed to love the same things I love, mainly making music and drinking beer. The novelty of this band was a lot of fun, but their overall musical ability blew me away.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Queens of the Stone Age

Spring is here, and with it, comes enough money to start going to shows again. It's been a long, slow, showless winter but the sun is starting to shine again and the awesome rock shows are slowly starting to trickle back into town. Tonight's Queens of the Stone Age show at the Ryman has been on my cloudy radar for a while, and I was glad when I finally found that lovely soul on Craigslist that just wanted to get rid of their tickets to someone who would enjoy the show.

My partner in crime for the night needed a bite to eat, thus detouring us into Robert's Western World. Although this little pit stop made us miss the opening act at the Mother Church, the band playing at the honky tonk was really good. The guitar playing front man switched seamlessly between chicken pickin' on a Telecaster and gliding up and down his pedal steel. We got a solid half hour of surfy-rockabilly selections and a good dose of the lower Broadway vibe, not to mention a few cheap cans of Busch.

When we got to the show, we quickly decided that our back row lower level seats just wouldn't do so we made our way up to my usual spot in the walkway in the back of the balcony. I love this spot because it's right next to the light guy and I can stand up the whole time without being heckled by lazy seat nazis.

The first half of the show consisted of the band playing their entire self-titled debut album, which as far as I was concerned, was great. Not being very familiar with much of their catalog at all, I was aware of their rocking potential and I tend to like most bands' earlier stuff anyway. The Queens are a good ol' fashioned rock band, with a tone which is one of all around badass-ness and rock debauchery. Drinking vodka from a beer bottle, Josh Homme delivered his falsetto vocals and savage guitar riffs like a true rock hero. Joey Castillo banged out those tricky drum lines without a flaw and Michael Shuman's bass sounded Entwistle-iscious. The other two guitar players brought additional layers of attack as well as extras such as shakers, keys, and electronic noisemakers that sounded like they were bought at Radiohead's yard sale. The second half of the show consisted of selections from the rest of their albums, including a song requested by a fan which Homme explained was about a teenage experience with LSD, as well as one of the only two songs I recognized, "No One Knows".

The Queens of the Stone Age brought it like I knew they would. Their show wasn't full of fancy lights and flashy effects, but rather filled with crunching, well crafted rock songs and a killer band dynamic. This band to me is one of the most underrated rock acts of my generation and I'm glad I got to see them and can't wait to engulf myself in their entire index.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Old Union

Last night I pulled myself out of the cave that has been my hibernation space for the last month or so and caught myself some good old fashioned live Old Union music at 3rd and Lindsley. It was great to get out and see some familiar faces along with a band that I had never heard of and instantly became a fan of.

After the early show band payed tribute to the entire Police/Sting catalog, and seemingly the entire crew from the Police 2010 reunion tour cleared the stage, two dudes calling themselves the Coldstares took the stage and surprised the hell out of a roomful of people. Their similarity to the Black Keys was undeniable, but as far as I'm concerned, they were much better. I saw the Keys at the Ryman and left early, whereas I couldn't get enough of these guys at 3rd. The singer/guitar player/effects box stomper was super tight with his riffs and solos that sounded like what would happen if Tom Morello got the blues at Led Zeppelin's house. The drummer did a great job filling in the spaces sometimes left open by other rock duos. I bet they'd love to have the chance to tell the Allman Brothers that it really only takes two dudes to play a rockin' Whippin' Post. Keep an eye out for the Coldstares. That is some awesome local rock.

I guess nowadays when Randy Boen, Randy Russell and Spotty are billed to open acoustically, it's a safe bet that means a full on Ballhog set. The 20 minute set up was long and the set was treacherously short. There was an old favorite, an "East Nashville Lullaby" that did a great job of doing what a lullaby is intended to do, and a new one from Russell and Spotty about county jail. How does Randy remember all those words and changes? He nailed it.

Old Union finally came on and treated the 30 or so fans left to a great set. Favorites like "Motels and Highways", "Sweet Freedom" among others were mixed with awesome covers including "Ophelia", "Let It Bleed", and "Serve Somebody". For some reason, Dave the Freight Train was unable to play drums on this night so he was replaced by the drummer from Chuck's solo blues band whose name I never caught. He did a pretty good job for a fill in. He nailed all the stops and changes, and although Dave's rock shoes are almost impossible to fill, the drumming, along with the stellar bass playing from funk house Dubbers, was good and the sub didn't really seem to affect the show. A long jammy sit in from Randy Boen and a vocal appearance from Randy Russell just added to the sense of community. It turned out to be another great night with one of my favorite local bands and all my friends. A good return to live music life after a long winter's hibernation.