If life were perfect, the East Nashville Underground would be more than just a quarterly music festival. It would be a regular establishment, and its theme song would run along the lines of Cheers’ “you wanna go where everybody knows your name.” Saturday night, I took on the festival alone, too compelled by the lineup to pass up the opportunity to go. As is typical of Nashville’s big city-small town vibe, the crowd surfaced with a range of familiar faces. The underground united us through our love of grunge, booze, and live music.
Saturday night opened with Buffalo Clover, a band that has been circulating on my radar lately. This was the first time I got to see them live, and I was not disappointed. Fronted by Margo Price, the group has a charismatic stage presence, bringing together the roots rock and soul with a strong southern undertone. Next up was Heavy Sole. As one person live tweeted, “I didn’t realize they were so…heavy.” Still, an impressive amount of sound for a two-piece band. Sol Cat brought their welcomed beach-paradise to a Nashville November, and Billy Swayze proved a dynamic performer with his blend of alternative rock and smooth soul sound.
Kansas Bible Company, whose album release show was a part of Saturday night’s festivities, is a band whose live performances have evaded me since I first starting hearing about them. I’ve always been in the wrong place at the wrong time when they’re performing, and consequently suffer the hype of the group from fellow music-goers without being able to affirm it. So I was happy to finally get the chance to catch them at ENU, and was pleasantly surprised that they did indeed live up to their sterling reputation. The eleven-piece band features two percussionists, five horns, three guitars, and a bass, and draws on a multitude of genre-influence. What’s more- they actually boast a tight, cohesive sound. They seemed to be a crowd favorite, with the audience unanimously dancing to an intrinsic big-band beat. I’ll be sure to get in the right place at the right time to see these guys again.
With soaring voices and precise guitar lines, Ravello proved to be my favorite surprise of the night. I’m hesitant to ever describe a band’s performance as “beautiful,” but the synchronicity in their stage presence and sound was just that: an aesthetic coaxing of your senses. Each member of the four-piece band proved to be a master of his instrument, and featured impeccable vocal harmonies; their chemistry is beyond satisfying, it is inclusive and engaging. Perhaps the influence of a few too many whiskey cokes and an imagined backdrop of the Amalfi Coast helped to heighten my senses, but I truly fell in love with this group’s sound, and will definitely be checking them out on November 30 for their Vinyl Release Show at Mercy Lounge. Listen to their track “Forgive Me Love,” and join me on the 30th.
The night ended with DJ Jazzy Jazz (Brandon Jazz),whose unique style and performances lends itself to ideas of a futuristic utopia. (At least that was what was going on in my mind at this very late point in the night, again, a few too many drinks in.) Jazzy Jazz brings an uppity charm to the audience, and was a good last act; if he hadn’t left me feeling a strange sense of giddiness at his originality, I may have opted to sleep behind the bar.
Before I snuck out for the night, I made sure to get one last look at the graffiti painting outside, leaving me with my usual, “damn, Nashville is a hell of a city,” conclusion. The festival proved a success, with live-tweets keeping the audience alert and humored, a bar full of free booze and friendly faces, and a well-constructed set of acts, none of whom disappointed. I may have wasted most of Sunday sleeping off the excitement, but I think I got in my holy time at ENU. Until the next time, guys.