If the name of your band is Cold Hands, you come out swinging and set the bar just a teeny bit out of reach for every act that follows. A fine example of the “sum of the parts” quality of the power trio, their stripped-down blast of Gang of Four styled, other-side-of-the-pond infused rock felt like a wakeup call for anybody unprepared to pay attention to the “openers.” With a healthy respect for dissonance and melody, a whirling howl of a rhythm section and clearly defined “sound,” Cold Hands made me forget that I’d already been up for about 14 hours, and the night had just begun. Good stuff.
Brooklyn UK. Looking like they stepped off the cover of the latest “Alternative Press,” these youngsters broke into a short, finely tuned set of modern rock-pop something or other. I won’t use the term “emo” because frankly I’m not even sure what it is exactly. And don’t get me wrong: they’re good. They’re tight, they’ve got the moves and the sound and the image. But here’s the thing: while some groups display a personalized synthesis of their influences, Brooklyn UK demonstrates a freshly snapped Polaroid of theirs. Once the colors set in, we’ll have a better idea of who they are.
With a “Cramps” inducing full frontal assault, The Cheat jolted me upright in my seat for the majority of their set. Fuzzy bass, reverb drenched guitars and Munsters approved keys all converged into a furiously over the top explosion of gleeful noise. Theirs is the sound of Dick Dale dressed up like a vampire, forced through a meat-grinder into a sausage casing of punk fury, and plopped into Vincent Price’s frying pan- or something along those lines. Fun, loud as hell and (most importantly) entertaining, The Cheat has me pondering what it is exactly that’s floating in the water just across the state line.
And so, after an exceptionally long adventure into the realm of tuning, the Shiner Miners stepped up to the plate and ... OK, never mind the colorful introduction. If the music one makes is a reflection of their personality, then the sound the Shiner Miners produce is a funhouse mirror image of Luke Webb’s off-kilter and endearingly funny way of doing everything. Lollygagging through country, some reggae, rock and occasionally touching on hip-hop (?) these guys revel in making a big mess of it all. With the addition of Jason Beck on bass, the band’s rhythmic backbone is strong, providing Luke and Patty ample room to do their “thing,” which may include anything from Omnichord abuse to spontaneous gangsta rap recitation. Underneath the zany exterior, however, you’ll find literate, thoughtful lyrics — check out “Get Cryptic” or “Lurlene” to see what I’m talking about.
So there you go: three bands from Tennessee and one from little ol’ Sylva itself, all congregating in the only venue in town with enough guts to book stuff like this. Not such a bad way to spend a rainy Saturday night in the mountains.