It goes without saying that one of my favorite things about living in Nashville is the chance to walk into any given venue on any random night and be thoroughly impressed by the talent on display. However, sometimes the weather has other plans and an ice storm causes the cancellation of a week’s worth of entertainment on every evening that I have off from my part-time job. I was really looking forward to catching Paperhaus at The East Room on Monday night and Into It. Over It. at The High Watt last night, only for both bands to scrap their plans due to inclement conditions. Not being able to catch any live music for the past seven days has made me a bit stir crazy, so I’ll catch you up on the last show I went to: LA-based indie rockers Francisco The Man at The High Watt last Wednesday.
First up to bat on the bill was the Nashville-based synth pop quartet Wildfront. Specializing in a reverb-heavy but somewhat propulsive sound, Wildfront and its de facto leader Josephine Moore brought in probably the heaviest group of followers for the evening, friends of the band crowding the stage and participating with the band’s banter. I liked their set a lot, though it was regrettably short. Within about twenty minutes, Wildfront was off the stage, having played the bulk of their new EP Strange Gold and leaving me curious as to what they have in store for the future. They’ll be playing with local sad girl rockers Daddy Issues at The Stone Fox on March 3rd and opening for Western Medication’s first Exit/In headlining gig on March 10th.
Following Wildfront was the increasingly buzzed-about local garage rockers Chrome Pony. I had been hearing about these guys via word of mouth for a couple weeks prior to the show, and they proved capable of living up to expectations. Eased in by the PA’s appropriate choice of Mott The Hoople’s “All The Young Dudes”, Chrome Pony showed what a few such dudes can accomplish given the right tools. Their groovy, high-energy set carried shades of Southern rock (mostly due to outstanding organist Ric Alessio) while also flirting with the psychedelic. Frontman Tyler Davis’s scraggly yowl was a bit PUJOL-esque but his ability to whip out a mean blues riff cast him in a distinct light. And just like how difficult it was for Davis to keep his beanie on his head amidst the chaos, it was hard for the adjacent Mercy Lounge’s coworkers to keep their curiosity at bay, as I saw the backstage doors swing open frequently throughout Chrome Pony’s set. If you can’t make it to Exit/In on the 10th, swing over to ACME Feed & Seed for a free Chrome Pony set as part of No Country for New Nashville’s weekly showcase. They will also play Mercy Lounge the next night, as part of their trek down to SXSW.
Closing out the night was the touring act, Francisco The Man. While I was not familiar with the band until the night before, the group has an interesting story. It took them seven years to finish their debut album, last year’s Loose Ends. In that interim, they went through lineup changes and near-death experiences that almost destroyed the band’s foundation. Resilient from all these hardships, the four-piece made a point of stopping in Nashville on their extensive nationwide tour. They’re not a household name by any stretch and that name itself might be a bit too similar to a more famous one, but Francisco The Man are not really what you might expect. They describe themselves, somewhat jokingly, on Facebook as purveyors of “Regional Mexican / Italian Pop / Shoegaze.” My personal impression of their droney but somewhat angular opening instrumental was to recall the first time I heard Minus The Bear. However, lead singer Scotty Cantino is vocally a bit more reminiscent of dream popper Trevor Powers aka Youth Lagoon. This opening song, like many of the ones they played throughout the night, built from slow and measured to loose and chaotic. The four guys in the band had an obvious chemistry, the kind that comes only from a group that knows each other well and actually likes one another. Though they weren’t the most energetic performers, their casual style of playing made sense for what they sound like. They were a very good example for the local bands on the bill, showing what happens when the right people connect at the right time. I’ll be looking forward to their next album, which hopefully won’t take another seven years to come out.