saturday’s bruises and cold roses

16Mar09
It was only by chance that Katrina happened to text me on Friday with, “Ugh oh, looks like Isbell’s playing Nashville on March 14.” A little research, and I discovered him to be playing the Mercy Lounge with Deer Tick at 9:00. (Lis, there’s nothing up for September yet, but I’m pretty sure this is going to be our red-dress-cowboy-boots-gin-bartop-dancing venue.)

I showed up just late enough to miss the first opener, but not late enough to squeeze up toward the front. The place was packed, much more so than Southgate House last weekend. I was grumpy enough to justify a few Jack and cokes, and made grumpier still by Deer Tick, the second opener, who despite being fairly talented musicians (including a left-handed upright bassist), actually pretty much made my ears bleed. When Isbell and the 400 Unit took the stage, it was near on midnight, my feet were already hurting, and a few fights were brewing in the crowd behind me.

A few days’ reflection and I’ve come to the conclusion that the show last weekend was much, much better than this time around. The only thing really worth noting about Saturday’s show is that the band were taking shots of Jack straight from the bottle through the whole performance. Oh, and I guess it is worth mentioning that Isbell abandoned his usual taciturnity towards the end of the set by hopping off the stage and playing a solo in the middle of the crowd, specifically, right next to me. And okay, I about had a fit when they closed out the encore with Tom Petty’s “American Girl” again, because this time, they invited Will Hoge (who lives in Nashville) up on stage to sing with them.

By all means, it was good show, and even though they still played until about 1:30, the set was shorter and less comprehensive than last week’s gig. It was amusing to me, however, when Isbell pulled out his electrified acoustic guitar and behind the strings was a Southgate House bumper sticker.

(I’ll give it a brief note here, because it’s sure to spark a more detailed controversy, but after listening to Isbell’s new album and listening to Katrina’s list of twenty or so of Cooley’s Drive-By Truckers tracks, I have to admit that it turns out I’m not such a huge DBT fan, after all. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Cooley’s music, because I did–especially “Love Like This” and “Pin Hits the Shell” and “Loaded Gun in the Closet”. And call it cliche or call me a romantic or call it whatever you’d like, but I think I’d take Isbell’s “The Last Song I Will Write” to Cooley’s “Carl Perkin’s Cadillac” any day of the week. But that’s just me.)

What was supposed to be a gig-o-riffic weekend actually turned out to be more disappointing than anything else. Isbell’s show on Saturday was followed up by a Ryan Adams and the Cardinals gig on Sunday at the Nashville War Memorial. Suffice it to say that the exterior architecture of the War Memorial was more impressive than the gig itself.

The ticket listed 8:30 as the start time, and under the mistaken impression that there are no remaining bands that hold shows without opening acts, I left my apartment just as the Cardinals were taking the stage. I showed up late, to a packed house, and jostled my way through the crowd as the band closed out “Come Pick Me Up.” It went downhill from there.

Ryan Adams was hilarious and messy and chatty and actually, quite incredible. I am always impressed by the talent and skill of a live musician, but Adams’s raw emotion, too, was difficult to avoid. Or at least, it would have been difficult to avoid if I wasn’t standing at five-foot-two in flat feet surrounded on all sides and in front and back by drunk, Vandy frat boys at six-foot-three, who spent most of the show talking and stumbling around and who, during the encore, decided to start passing a joint back and forth. To say nothing of my general annoyance with my neighbors, the War Memorial, and in fact, the entire city of Nashville, is non-smoking.

Halfway through the set, the band went into “When the Stars Go Blue,” and the entire audience joined in a sing-along, which was actually quite pretty to listen to, but instead of joining in myself, I was mostly overwhelmed by how isolated I felt. The thing about Adams’s music is that it’s the kind of music that’s meant to be shared; it’s meant to be listened to together and it’s meant to be felt. There was none of that for me last night. Instead, I was a girl at a gig by herself, wanting to be anywhere but, but determined to stick it out to the end, if only to get by thirty bucks’ worth. I have never in my life felt more like an island than last night.

“Sun Also Sets” just about did me in, and it didn’t help much when they took the stage for the encore with “Wonderwall” and closed out the show with “This is It” and “Cold Roses.”

The show was worth the cost of admittance, and I really am glad I got to see Ryan Adams live–especially if all these rumors about his retirement turn out to be true. But my gig-o-riffic weekend was decidedly not.

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2 Responses to “saturday’s bruises and cold roses”

  1. 1 yessaidyes

    Hey girl hey. I’m glad you like “Love like this”— I’m pretty sure that would be my wedding song if I ever have a wedding or a wedding song. I’m sorry your gigorific weekend wasn’t all that you hoped it would be. Want to meet in Lexington and see DBT? Even though you aren’t a fan??

  2. I am a fan of DBT, just not such a huge fan. When is the Lexington show?


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