» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

May 7, 2008
Those music lovers who have had the unfortunate pleasure of experiencing a traditional Nashville audience know that the lack of energy in Music City USA can be agonizing. Nine times out of ten, a sea of heads will commence bobbing with the first notes and continue unabated for a show's duration, the intensity of crowd participation (or lack thereof) rarely matching the thrill of staring at the floor (which is what most people spend their time doing). But earlier this week at City Hall, a former warehouse on 12th Avenue south of downtown converted into a spacious, wide-open venue three years ago (and set to close this fall), international electro-dancehall sensation M.I.A. and knob-twisting openers Holy Fuck momentarily broke through the city's cloud of lethargy. Their sets on Monday night brought hope to those in Nashville, if only for an evening, that letting loose and consuming music in a manner free of the usual Grand Ole Opry-style constipation was entirely possible.

M.I.A. was the headliner, but Holy Fuck brought the tightest set of the night.

Touring in support of their recently released Lovely Allen vinyl, the Toronto-based Holy Fuck was a pleasant surprise and a quintessential part of the evening. Their music is complex in its simplicity - mostly comprised of sustained synth chords that are modulated in innumerable ways, the group often holds notes for long durations, creating subtle changes in the melody of a song while tacking on layer upon layer of sound, building dense and intriguing structures from what would otherwise be bland songs. On Monday night the group not only created incredibly tight compositions, but also constructed a set that seemed tailor-made to prep an audience for the ensuing M.I.A. dance-fest. Were any other group of musicians charged with breaking the ice, M.I.A.'s subsequent audio party would likely not have been so powerful. Although clearly not the evening's main draw, it is a safe bet that Holy Fuck left Nashville with more than a handful of prospective loyalists.

Holy Fuck

Once the Canadians had wrapped up their electronic assault and carted their gear away, there was a long interruption before Maya Arulpragasam - better known as M.I.A. - finally took the stage. The delay served to build an abnormal amount of tension in the audience (not to mention extra time to douse ourselves in beer), and at one point I turned to a friend and predicted that Music City's image-conscious would soon be going apeshit. As it turns out, I was more than right. With at least a thousand people pressed tightly into the venue, M.I.A.'s set was a cue for the hipsters to cut loose. From the front to the back, hands flew, women erupted into a nearly choreographed R. Kelly-style bump-n-grind, and not one person seemed to give a damn about anything beyond the moment at hand. With a huge, crazy and Amish-looking fella blockading the photo pit in front of the stage, there was no escape from the frenzied dancing.

The odd thing is that the music pumping from the speakers seemed to itself have little bearing on the audience's reaction. The crowd came expecting to hear songs from the Sri Lanka-via-Londoner's two albums, Kala and Arular, and whether the sound was crisp and spot-on (it wasn't) seemed irrelevant. M.I.A. spent the first three songs trying to dial in her vocals. The crowd spent the first three songs dancing. Overall the M.I.A. performance had the feel of a DJ set, in that her albums could have simply been played over the loudspeakers and the night would have continued without interruption. But did the inconsequential nature of the performance really matter? No - and that was the beauty of the whole thing. At one point Arulpragasam actually remarked that she didn't particularly want to be in Nashville in the first place - whether this was sarcastic or not was hard to tell, as she certainly didn't seem thrilled to be in Tennessee. Perhaps it was a tough-love tactic, a way to coax a notoriously subdued city into proving that Nashville is a worthy destination on the live circuit. Any way you slice it, Monday night's crowd was by far the most energetic and carefree I've experienced in the Country Music Capital of the World.

Holy Fuck

SEE ALSO: www.holyfuckmusic.com
SEE ALSO: www.miauk.com
SEE ALSO: www.cityhallnashville.com

John Bohannon
An LAS contributing writer based in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, John Bohannon is also a regular contributor to the pages of Prefixmag.com, Daytrotter.com, and Impose Magazine.

See other articles by John Bohannon.



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