I arrived at Mercy Lounge before they officially opened the doors. The venue was mostly empty — the Buffalo Rodeo guys were on stage sound-checking — Rainbow KK’s frontman Stefan Meadows scuffled in and out, repping a black Hold Steady jacket. I sat down beside Lost River Caveman Michael McMillan. Musicians slowly rolled in — one talented player after another, dragging an amp behind them, or a cymbal bag slung on their back — and I said ” You know, we oughta take a group picture.” Mcmillan agreed — “This does feel like a class reunion.”
Then, a tour bus pulled up. Dumbfounded, I speculated with the rest of the crowd. Was it Cage The Elephant ? Chris Placco’s dad takin’ one out for a spin? Or a random country act, Instant People, comprised of members of country legend Glen Campbells’ family members? Oh, the obvious choice.
While nobody understood why or how it went down, Insant People, played 4 well-crafted country tunes. More than one person nearby said “It’s like Mumford and Sons…but countrier.” and the entire Bowling Green scene ( a massive crowd came out for this show!) just watched in befuddled entertainment. Instant People played their tunes — they blundered around in the crowd for a few minutes — I heard that Glen Campbell was actually in attendance, but didn’t actually see him — and then they got on their bus and were off.
Now, no harping on anybody out there trying for exposure and while admitting that this was a good opportunity to be had, I must pose a question. Has Instant People ever considered that they might look a tad on the shithead side for crashing an event meant to honor other equally talented musicians (none of which are related to Glen Campbell) and then not even staying to watch a single other band play? Who exactly do they think they are? Glen Campbell’s relatives. Who have money invested in them. And nice gear. Oh and a tour bus. And most of them had really nicely-coiffed hair.
All that aside, they were talented musicians. I just think they could use a lesson in Southern Hospitality. Maybe that’s asking too much. (As I write this blog, I just made a semi-cranky comment on Instant People’s facebook page — I wonder if I’ll pay for that.)
Now — onto the rest of the evening —
The evening opened with Buffalo Rodeo. Every time I see this band perform, they impress me with something new. It’s like they’re continually barreling forward, working, adding new stuff, and playing as much as they can. Reminds me of another band I know that started out this way. Or two.
BAND: BUFFALO RODEO:
WHAT I LOVE: Their entire look! I always tell these guys it is “clean, yet white trash” — they look so real life, but also perfectly put together.
WHAT I WISH: that I had any earthly idea what the singer was saying 63% of the time. He obviously has a great vocal range and can enunciate in regular conversation and here’s why I care: the melodies are GREAT — I sing them and make up lyrics, as is, so if I knew what he was really saying — they’d be 100% perfection.
MISHEARD/ MADE UP LYRICS for a BR SONG: “Jeeeeperrssss Creeepersss Save my Souuulllll”
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THESE GUYS: many more shows, huge local fanbase grows, only a matter of time before the reward as long as they stick together
MY (totally unqualified) ADVICE: Please stick together. The sky is the limit if you do.
Next, Rainbow K.K. was up to bat. As I often call them “the wku hipster favorite” — they really are expanding their fanbase by doing shows like this. This is a band that other bands (cough, cough Instant People) could learn a lesson from on manners and being super sweet ass people.
BAND: RAINBOW KK
WHAT I LOVE: nearly every lyric that comes out of Stefan’s mouth. Probably helps that he’s a film/english nerd like myself— but the lyrics are super strong. His stage antics only help push the envelope.
WHAT I WISH: that the other supporting band members would act out just the same! I did witness Austin Klaine do a jump in the air — so he’s on his way! But how can y’all expect the crowd to dance around with Stefan if you’re not showin’ that you feel it?
MISHEARD/MADE UP LYRICS FOR RKK SONG: “I’ll personally take your piss! I’ll personally take your piss!”
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THESE GUYS: I remember asking one of them (stefan or seth) about the future before — I *think* he said once they’re beyond school, they’d be interested in more touring. If they could get a GREAT recording of 5 songs (ep) and get that shiz picked up on college radio — a lot of doors could open.
MY (totally unqualified) ADVICE: Consider a college radio campaign with your next EP. It’s an investment, but as long as you have the goods to back it up, it’s a solid investment.
Lost River Cavemen. I will not admit how long it has been since I’ve seen these guys’ live — and boy, will I never make it that long again. Purely polished act. You know they’ve been to this rodeo before immediately. Tight musically — stage presence ON — and a pleasure to watch.
BAND: LOST RIVER CAVEMEN
WHAT I LOVE: They are the whole package. Everyone is musically at the same level and a veteran of the stage. I literally could not get enough of Geno Wilson and his theatrical bass playing — or really, any of the rest of the band! The crowd went from head-nodding to official hip moving with THIS set.
WHAT I WISH: I’m not exactly well-versed ( a pun? ) with this genre as much as garage rock — but I wish there were more really clear, really simple hooks. Chorus me to death because I love everything you write, Michael McMillian. I need something I can chant/holler/jump jive and wail over and over with y’all. You need a “cavemen” anthem!
MISHEARD/MADE UP LRCM LYRICS: “you never squirt girls with shot guns”
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THESE GUYS: They’re the whole package — it would take one serious investor to take them from a “regional” act to a “southeastern” act — just have to find them.
MY (totally unqualified) ADVICE: Festival market — yes, shows and shows more, too. But festivals are networking events as much as great exposure.
Schools followed Lost River Cavemen — I could see Jeremi Simon’s wild mane of hair coming from a mile away. And I love it. Having just worked on an album with the same producers that worked with Cage The Elephant and Sleeper Agent, it’s safe to say these guys are next in line for the close looks of the music industry. And I couldn’t be happier for them.
What I Love: Jeremi Simon is a clever-as-shit songwriter (taking many cues from Daniel Johnston) — Daniel Marlowe is a literal marathon drummer - Joey Bennet is the realest human being I talk to on a regular basis -JD Minor knows how to make the guitar look bad-ass no matter what he’s playing — and Russell Brooks, I won’t even begin.
What I Wish: (Jeremi will know this is coming) I wish Jeremi would open his eyes. I have this *thing* and to some other people, it just doesn’t matter — but it’s this saying I made up “If you can’t face the crowd, why should the crowd face you?” You are great and confident and you have the world believing in you — don’t be afraid to look and see it all happening.
Misheard/Made Up Lyrics for Schools: “We all can be a porn king” sung to “well be alright in the morning”
What Will Happen to These Guys: All of the “details” of their label dealings and record are still a little hazy for me — but if they’re anything like the Sleeper Agent phenom then I’d say they have a lot of tour support slots for them, I *know* a coveted SXSW slot, and a whole lot of the right kind of exposure.
My (totally unqualified) Advice: You are the good guys. You know where you came from. And you deserve this opportunity. Keep both those things in perspective and you’ll have our hearts forever.
If the Lost River Cavemen hadn’t got hips swaying, Billy Swayze would have. A girl friend of mine who watched Billy (for the first time) from the front row said after his set, “I think he just had sex with all of us.” Can you get a better compliment for a crooner like him?
BAND: BILLY SWAYZE
WHAT I LOVE: Goddamn you, Billy Swayze, and knowing all the “hot man” tricks. You’ve got the hair, you’ve got the smile, you’ve got the unbuttoned shirt, and lucky for you — you’ve also got the talent. And a great backing band that is supporting you. You’re a lucky little shit — now stop gloating and go to my next paragraph.
WHAT I WISH: We’d get some new material from you. Take what I told Michael McMillan and reverse (man,I’m on a pun roll) it. You have no problem bringing us in and I will be damned if I didn’t say “you’ve got that good stuff” 600 times last night on the way home — but I want a little more substance in the rest of it all. Balance me like you do in your ballads with the upbeat songs.
MISHEARD/MADE-UP BILLY SWAYZE LYRICS: “My name is Gustav” instead of “I got that good stuff” — very catchy, very funny.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THESE GUYS: Continued touring — expanding their fan base— I could see these jams used in tv/movie licensing EASILY. Especially the ballads.
My (totally unqualified) Advice: Get out and make some Non-BG, Non-Nashville band friends. It would be silly not to invest in your home base — but you got the goods to trade some shows all over our region. You’d go over wonderful in Knoxville/Chattanooga to start. Believe it.
The Black Shades, of course, played next, but I would look like a total douche-master if I gave much feedback on this — even though I act pretty objectively when talking about them and likely give them more hell than I’d give any other band. So…to summarize, they played well, we are busting our asses, and there’s always room to improve just like all the other bands on this page.
Following the Black Shades came two other local bands, The Plastic Friends and Fatbox. Both these bands are absolutely worth some time and ink — but my camera died literally as I was trying to take a photo of Will Perkins’ yellow shows. To remedy their seemingly “left-out”ness of this blog, I am personally vowing to go see them live and write a separate blog all of their own. Just gotta nail down a day.
Last, but not least, I’d like to say that I feel blessed to be part of our music community. Part of my 2012 Mantras are to be around as many smart, talented people as I can be and that happens without me having to move an inch from home. Bowling Green is a force to be reckoned with. Keep the energy going.