Exit/In’s hallowed space has possessed a range of artists and an incredibly wide variety of souls and personalities, and this past Thursday was no exception to the tradition. With the rock philosophies of PUJOL, the soulful musings of Curtis Harding, and the musical tantrums of the Black Lips, the walls rattled with hours of sounds made possible by three acts that proved themselves yet again.
Around 9pm PUJOL began the set in front of a substantial audience full of local supporters and loyal fans. Daniel Pujol, lead singer and creator of the musical entity, never failed to introduce each song and never shied away from the microphone. “Manufactured Crisis Control” opened the 13-song set with a stylistic transparency that gave the audience an immediate gateway into the band’s music and message. Followed by several popular tracks, “Post Grad,” “Mayday,” “Psychic Pain,” and “Circles,” the performance was colored by the musicians on stage and the enthused crowd. The clear drumhead pulsed while the drummer maintained the vital rhythmic element of the songs, and the bass player framed the punk music. The lead guitarist and Pujol shared several moments on stage, and these events only accentuated the group’s collective energy. Selections from the most recent release, KLUDGE, dominated the set, including “Pitch Black” and “No Words,” and “Youniverse,” the final track of the album, brought the high energy set to a cataclysmic end. With a band like PUJOL, you get what you expect, that is, if you expect an unabashed collective with lyrical honesty and musical mania.
Curtis Harding, along with his band, was next and interrupted the punk rock scene for a set of inspired melodies that brought a wave of upbeat nostalgia into the iconic venue. Hailing from Michigan but residing in Atlanta, Harding now shares the same creative town as the Black Lips and fuels his music with soul nuances and an unforgettable voice. “Drive My Car,” “Next Time,” and “Beautiful People” were incredibly indicative of the style and talent of this collective. Harding’s voice lived in the dark tones and lower registers, allowing his voice to engage the spirit of the band. The stage was brimming with clear talent, and the more formulaic style was decorated with instrumental solos and personality that complimented the other sets. Concluding with the beloved song, “Keep On Shining,” Harding and the band left the stage with a gracious, “we love you, and goodnight.”
Finally the Black Lips consumed the stage in front of the massive white sheet that hung behind them with “The Black Lips” and daisies spray-painted on it. You heard them before you saw them, and the full room was ready to be driven to chaos. The crowd surfing started at the first song, and the eager listeners rushed the stage and let the moshing commence. The four members of the band allowed the performance to be an extremely communal experience, never allowing the focus to be on one person or the other. They utilized every space on the stage, and with each song, the energy built to an even higher degree than imagined. Many selections performed were from their recent 2014 release, Underneath the Rainbow, which was partly recorded here in Nashville with the esteemed help of Patrick Carney of the Black Keys. They slowed it down and sped it up, singing with veins in their necks and pulses in their sound that perpetuated an infectious desire for the audience to thrash with them. Of course, they didn’t fail to include “O Katrina!” in the set, but the top tracks received just as much love (if you can call it that) as the more recent material. These psychedelic, satanic, sweat-dripping sounds of the Black Lips kept the vibes flowing and the beer throwing going while journeying through their repertoire of old and new.
So “thank you,” to Nashville’s Exit/In for hosting and to PUJOL, Curtis Harding, and the Black Lips for allowing the audience to leave mutually exhausted and hyped from a night of bold music and even more bold performances.
– Katie A.