Sunday, September 25, 2011

Soundland 2011

Soundland, formerly known as Next Big Nashville, is a 4-day, multi-venue festival that showcases the best up-and-coming Nashville musicians, as well as some exciting out-of-town talent. It's a great way to discover new bands while seeing old favorites. I'm exhausted and exhilarated after 3 days of fabulous music (I skipped Wednesday's shows cuz I'm old and sleepy). And no, this is not a fashion blog, but O HAI NEW CLOTHES!
But let's talk about the music, shall we?
The best of the best:

1. Reptar
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Reptar are from Athens, Georgia. They sound like a danceable mix of Talking Heads and Vampire Weekend, with a vocal style cribbed straight from Animal Collective. Their vibe is an infectious mix of college bravado, Pop Rocks, and sunshine held together with a kickass beat. It's impossible not to shake your hips while listening! And equally impossible not to grin while watching their keyboard player, who is most likely a direct descendant of Animal. As in, the Muppet. Yup.

2. The Black Belles
Image Source
Jack White pulled The Black Belles out of a hat last year (I'd like to see THAT hat!). I didn't know anything about them until I saw them at the Neuhoff Factory stage yesterday, and I immediately loved their Morticia Addams look and their 60s (bad)girl-group meets surf rock sound. Imagine watching Scooby-Doo projected onto the side of a big white marble mausoleum while eating licorice whips and giggling maniacally. That's what it feels like to listen to the Black Belles. Good musicians scoffed and told me that these ladies don't know how to handle their instruments. I don't care. Maybe I'm just fond of them because they remind me so much of my best friend, but whatever. Fun is fun, and these ladies put on a good show.

3. Those Darlins
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Creepy paper-mache chicken head =
My souvenir from a Those Darlins
CD release party, circa 2008-ish. :D
Those Darlins never, ever disappoint me. The first time I saw them perform was at a house party in 2007. They've changed so much since they were clogging in my friend's basement, and they just keep getting better! They traded in the calico for gold sequins and an in-your-face swagger, and they were ON yesterday at the Neuhoff Factory, absolutely fearless and sexy and channeling Mick Jagger. They TORE IT UP, finishing with an extended version of Shakin' All Over that had everyone moving. These ladies (and their gentleman drummer) rock. Keith had never seen them live, and he loved it.

Honorable Mentions:
Cheer Up Charlie Daniels and the Non-Commissioned Officers were fantastic. The 2 minutes of Paper Route we caught were beautiful. Ghostland Observatory got us moving and sounded good, but the crowd was rowdy and we left to avoid a bad scene. I didn't catch the Alabama Shakes, but my friends are raving about their soulful lead singer, and I hope to catch them when they come back to town on October 6. And while I was never much of a Nirvana fan (I got into Britpop and glam while everyone else went grunge), I loved watching Keith get happy when My So Called Band covered Nevermind. Finally, I want to give a shout-out to the friendly trolley drivers who kept drunks off the road and got me to my favorite shows on time. Thanks for making the festival safe and easy to navigate.

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