The Stone Fox is a cozy venue tucked within that area of Nashville where the construction is sparse, save for the streets named after our fifty states. Read: I have no idea how I got here, but thank God for iPhone maps.
When I arrive, fifty people stand outside only to find out that the show is sold out, and somehow, one free parking spot waits for me right in front of the venue. Good karma and a The Weeks/Sol Cat show is a fine pairing for a Saturday night.
By the time I’ve settled into the corner of the bar, with my prerequisite whiskey and iPhone notes app, (again: thank you Steve Jobs), The Weeks are halfway into their first song. Gutter Gaunt Gangster is an album that has gained significant credos, not just among us Nashville locals, but nationally; magazines like Rolling Stone have taken note of their musical acumen. Tonight their reputation precedes them; the venue is already packed with clusters of fans. This isn’t an exclusive crowd of college hipsters that involuntarily fill up the audience. These are true, hands flailing, “I know your album better than you do,” fans.
The performance is in an interactive one; as the bassist sways stage left, the audience mirrors his actions, and his smile reflects their enthusiasm. The synchronicity between the audience and the band could make a choreographed music video shot in one take. Such is a testament to the Week’s performance prowess; although these songs have circulated enough to gain a credible fan base both in and outside of Nashville, the band plays with a genuine passion for southern rooted rock n’ roll, and the audience recognizes this. They save their single, “House We Grew Up In,” for last, and the crowd coos harmonies just a beat too early, high off the music.
If the Weeks make me wish I felt like a slave to southern culture, Sol Cat makes me long for a houseboat on the coast. These bands work well together in concert, because they are both rooted in geography. The Weeks invoke their performance with pride for a working-class culture and a Southern landscape. Sol Cat’s music conjures up images of lush tropics, recreated by hammocks and inflatable palm trees inside a twenty-something’s apartment.
Tonight, Sol Cat debuts their full, self-titled album, and my expectations are fulfilled. I expect that the new music will make me wants to dance, drink, and invest in a life of shirking responsibilities. By the end of the set, my feet are blistered, my buzz is a little too strong, and I’m most will not have a productive Sunday morning. Mission accomplished.
I’ve been chronicling the band’s progress for about a year now, wondering when I’ll find their performances juvenile, or their music stale. But this never happens, for two reasons. First off, the members of Sol Cat play with an unfiltered amount of charisma; all five of them perform like caricatures of themselves, oozing a light-hearted seductiveness akin to a 1970’s Rolling Stones. They are deeply infatuated with the sounds their instruments produce, and they allow us to peer inside five intimate relationships that blend together harmoniously. Second, their songs don’t compel us to try and dig substantive meaning out of their content; they just compel us to have fun. After the show, I find the band’s guitarist, and voice memo his opinions on the completed album. (Has someone written a piece on our generation’s unprecedented attachment to Apple technology? If so, I need to read that.) I listen to it the next morning, but can barely make out the five-minutes of drunken banter. What it comes down to is that Sol Cat is just trying to make us dance. They want us to shirk our responsibilities, to feel hungover after their shows, and to alleviate our headaches with further indulgence and a run-through of their album. They want us to imagine a free-spirited life in a houseboat off a coast. This is why when I see Sol Cat, my expectations will always be fulfilled.
I will go home and make plans to buy a one-way ticket to some far-off city, and live within the spontaneous and liberated realm of happiness that their music evokes. And this high will persist, until I am two weeks late on my electric bill. Then I will lie in the dark, nested inside the hammock of my twenty-something apartment, down a few beers and listen to this album. And the cycle will continue, because Sol Cat will always fulfill my expectations.