Last night Smallpools played Exit/In for the second time in the past six months, this time promoting their new album LOVETAP!
*Note: DJ Blumy will still be contributing occasional music commentary and reviews to The VU Backstage because he is an unemployed philosophy major and has nothing better to do.
At 3pm yesterday, I turned in the final assignment of my college career. Partially to celebrate and partially to distract myself from the terror of facing the adult world, I headed over to Exit/In with my friend Sparling to see Smallpools rock the joint. My sister loves the band and had turned me on to their music, so making her jealous was another great reason to go to the show.
We arrived at 7:30 to find the half-full floor dominated by people without the over-21 hand stamps. Any illusion I had of being able to escape feeling old vanished immediately. Pitying the venue for what promised to be a slow night of alcohol sales, I grabbed a Shiner Bock and snagged a spot in the crowd just behind a couple of girls taking selfies. Naturally, Sparling and I photobombed as many as we could.
From left: drummer Joel Wren (he likes his personal space I guess), bassist Marshall Skinner, singer/keyboardist Daniel Ellsworth, yours truly, guitarist Timon Lance.
This year’s Rites of Spring was probably the best I’ve seen in my four years at Vanderbilt. The Music Group did an excellent job of bringing in headliners–Chance the Rapper and Young the Giant–who could excite a wide swath of the student body (unlike NEEDTOBREATHE) and then put on a show to back up the hype (unlike 2 Chainz). The lineup also ran impressively deep, featuring a resurgent T-Pain and a variety of up-and-comers such as The Lone Bellow and Matoma. Best of all, there was a strong local presence on Saturday’s docket with Louisa Wendorff and Daniel Ellsworth and the Great Lakes.
I got the chance to sit down with DE+TGL in the WRVU studio before their set later in the day and we had a blast talking about things like eating donuts, crazy stories from the studio, and the concept behind their music video for “Phantoms.” The band was also kind enough to play two songs in the studio for us as a little preview of their Rites show. Here’s audio footage of the full interview…
…and here’s video of the band playing “Sun Goes Out” and “Phantoms” live on air, as well as some highlights from the interview (if you’re in a hurry)!
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I can still remember the first post I ever wrote for this website. An audio recording of a novice interviewer and his talented guest, with a sentence describing the recording. Simple, to the point, but also unimaginative.
Lena Stone came back with a new name and amazing music. I think I’ve gotten better at interviewing, too.
Two and a half years later, that same guest returned with a different name and a vastly improved song catalog. And the hour she spent on the air, and the website where the recording of that hour will reside forever, seem like a completely different endeavor. Lena Stone’s music and personality shone through the microphone and left me gaping in wonder at the strides she has taken. I hope The VU Backstage’s progress has matched her growth.
Harry Chapin once sang, “All my life’s a circle.” Never has that phrase felt truer to me than it did this past Sunday. I’ll be handing off the reins of The VU Backstage to my successor, Jack Sentell, before the month is over. It was only fitting for me to bring my stewardship of the Vanderbilt music scene’s voice to a close with Lena. You can check out the full recording of the show below.
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Stevie Wonder kept Bridgestone rocking past midnight last night.
When my mom found out Stevie Wonder was coming to Nashville, she wanted me to go so badly that she helped me pay for the tickets. Not that I wouldn’t have tried to go anyways. Stevie is 64 years old, so who knows how long he’ll be touring? And word was that he would be playing his seminal 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life in full.
From the moment I found my seat at Bridgestone Arena I knew the show was going to be an extravagant production. On the stage sat two drum kits, two percussion arrays, seats for a ten-piece string ensemble and six-piece brass section, risers for a horde of backing vocalists, several keyboards and guitars waiting to be played, and of course Stevie’s setup front and center: his signature Hohner Clavinet and a Yamaha electric grand piano.
12th and Porter is the latest victim of gentrification in the Gulch.
Nashville calls itself Music City; it’s the moniker that supposedly separates our home from Charlotte, Minneapolis, and every other up-and-coming metropolis, and it’s a huge part of the reason I chose to come to Vanderbilt. So the news that the locally beloved venue 12th and Porter will be closing its doors at the end of February disturbs me greatly—and if you care about preserving the cultural integrity of Nashville, it should disturb you too.
According to The Tennessean, the property will be redeveloped to “enhance the North Gulch.” If the South Gulch is any indication, that means we’ll see 12th and Porter replaced by luxury condos, a couple boutique clothing stores, and another Bar Louie or an Irish pub. Instead of seeing a great local band or marginally more to check out an established act like Kings of Leon or Neil Young (both have played 12th and Porter), you’ll get to overpay for dinner and drinks at a generic nightspot devoid of personality. This is gentrification at its finest: the conversion of a “run-down” area into an upscale neighborhood through the replacement of its businesses and residents and raising of rent.
Joel Levi headlined Soundstamp’s local music showcase at Exit/In on Monday night.
Exit/In is one of Nashville’s most famous and beloved venues. One look above the bar at the wall of artists who have performed on its stage is enough to send the tingles of history down your spine. Last night, though, Exit/In’s legendary stage was devoted to three local acts: Joel Levi, James and the Wild Spirit, and Vanderbilt’s own Kid Freud. The trio of bands, though quite different in genre and style, combined to put on one hell of a show.