Mercy Lounge has been a pioneer venue, booking the most exceptional of shows in Nashville over the past decade. They celebrated their 10 year anniversary on January 11th and 12th. In typical Nashville fashion, the lounge celebrated its success with a weekend rager and the city's wildest bands.
Each night, the first 250 rager goers enjoyed the show free of cover. The event hosted several bands performing at The High Watt, The Cannery Ballroom and of course the birthday boy himself, Mercy Lounge. The anticipation was written on the hundreds of quivering faces in a line that stretched well beyond the second parking lot.
The first night we stayed in the Cannery Ballroom. Mostly to secure a stage front spot for the most anticipated act - JEFF the Brotherhood.
Clear Plastic Masks started this stellar night off on a deafening note. This Brooklyn- based band had exceptional chemistry, both with each other and the swooning 18 year old girls in the crowd, who were practically smitten by his charm. Vocals aside, Clear Plastic Masks knows how to stop and start every cord with their heavy overdriven riffs and keyboard stabs. Clear Plastic Masks is the very definition of a party starter, with their signature blues rock tonality and above par technical musicianship.
The audience grew tighter as Clear Plastic Masks abandoned the stage. Slight chatter about Clear Plastic Masks' performance was well decorated with a few “wows.”
Turbo Fruits, a punk project band who knows the essential meaning of how to throw a stellar rock show, tuned up and took off. Smoke machines cause a sea of awesomeness to flood the stage when Turbo Fruits opened their set with their 2007 hit “Volcano.” The song's a grower, slow at first and mosh-pit inducing later. The crowd knew when to shout “VOLCANO!” Jonas Stein, lead singer and guitarist, did several high jump kicks during his many legendary guitar solos of the evening. Jonas is the kind of unpredictable performer who pulls his guitar to his mouth and shreds a screaming solo using only his tongue. Of course, nothing says rock and roll quite like some tongue shredding or soloing behind the head.
New listeners joined loyal fans, instantly addicted to Turbo Fruits and pleading for another schredfest as the band left in a sweaty mess.
Richie strutted on stage with a soccer referee shirt, red bandanna hanging loosely around his neck, and white Ray-Bans - and just in case anyone forgot they were in Nashville, he was rocking a mean stetson cowboy hat. Typical first reaction: "This band has two drummers." That they do. And thrash they shall.
“I am sweet baby Richie,” he announces after a couple songs.
The bass-heavy Richie drove a lubricated crowd into dance party mode for a set that abandoned any real soul roots and emphasized a more modern groove.
Now, the anticipation kicked in us and the rest of the crowd, once Richie left the stage. We were pushed against the stage as more people flooded in to see the stoner-rock duo JEFF the Brotherhood. As people waited for them to start, the conversation in the crowd was about the last time they saw JEFF the Brotherhood was at one of their well- known house shows a few years back.
Never expect a JEFF the Brotherhood show, to be a stand-still head nod type of crowd. Smoke machine’s started to fill the stage as the two brothers walked on. The audience of over 200 people became one giant dance party. Everyone was climbing on top of each other as they sing every lyric of each song as if they were going to die the next second. Jake, the vocalist and lead guitarist, wailed out impressive guitar solos from his customize 3-string guitar. We were welcomed by a stage driver from behind the stage with a swift kick in the face from their shoe. But, no one ever leaves a JEFF the Brotherhood show without a few bruises.
After JEFF the Brotherhood ended, everyone in the crowd was begging for an encore. Five minutes passed by as the audience realized the show has ended. But, for the weekend it only started.
We made it a mission to experience every room for the second night of the Mercy Lounge decade party.
First was indie-pop five piece COIN, at the Cannery Ballroom. This three-month old band blends catchy synth tunage with catchy dance hooks. Their songs became so energetic that the drummer cracked a drum stick into the crowd, knocking out some teeth in the process.
Meanwhile, Mystery Twins were halfway through their set, which was more a vintage light show really. Towering racks of bulbs synchronized with pulsing drums. Think White Stripes with a layering of harmonies type duo.
Nashville loves their garage-punk bands, and adore D. Watusi. The seemingly vacant High Watt filled fast once D. Watusi ripped through a few. Typical D. Watusi fan: guys in jean jackets. Yes, those guys. They crept out of the woodwork and crowded the stage to show approval with the almighty head nod.
The rest of the evening was spent at Mercy Lounge. Why not celebrate a venue's 10 year anniversary at the actual place, after all?
Ravello owned the Mercy stage next. Think Kings of Leon with an army of boutique guitars. Unconventional. Yes. But so is guitar sliding on drum symbols and on a wood pole to the side of the stage.
Five Knives was next up. All we knew of Five Knives was that were two dudes in sleeveless hoodies and two towers of synthesizers. Biker rock meets big drone alarms? Nope. Throw away the stereotypical Nashville band and we'll introduce to you Five Knives. They. Blew. Us. Away. Their sheer level of loudness is enough to blow any and all expectations out of the water. They built a sonic landscapes of electronic filter madness. And had a blonde, and yes a bombshell, hop on top of their amps and sprawl out in front of the stage to scream in the faces of the front row. What a spectacle blondie was. Between jumping off drums or climbing on amps, this girl had us hooked. The floor boards of Mercy Lounge were taking a beating that night as people jumped to Five Knives' beats and stage antics.
Finally, the party closed with southern-rock group The Weeks. Secret band language was readable throughout the show. Such as when the guitarist, Samuel Williams stood in front of the lead vocalist, Cyle Barnes and licked his entire face while in the middle of the song. We imagine it was a means of communication. Flattery, perhaps. A sign that things must be feeling good up there. That didn’t deter Cyle, of course. And after the grand finale, the band announced, “now it’s time to get drunk - thank you.” The audience refused to depart and were heavily rewarded with an encore.