[REVIEW] Happyness, Michael Rault, & Butthole | 7.22.15 @ The End

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Happyness, Michael Rault, & Butthole
The End; Nashville, TN
July 22, 2015

Words by Jacob Ryan (@GonzoWithGusto).

Sometimes, it’s important to just trust your friends. So when my editor/compadre told me I needed to check out Michael Rault at The End, because he knows my tastes, I took his word for it. Throw in British shoegaze pop punks Happyness as headliners, and a new on the local scene floozy punk outfit Butthole, and you have a wonderful Wednesday night of indie tunage. Read on after the jump for a full recap, and be sure to get all three bands in your life sooner than later.

Looking to kill some time — if a show is said to start at 9 pm at The End, it’s usually closer to 10 — I walked down the street to a wonderfully divey eatery/bar called the Gold Rush. I’d heard very good things about their greasy spoon diner menu, but had yet to check it out for myself. Even though I’d already eaten, I figured I could at least grab a drink and check it out. Much to my delight, they run a weekly drink special on Wednesdays, a pint of PBR and a shot of Jameson for just $6! A great deal indeed.

Two beers, two shots, and just $12 (plus $5 for tip) later, I was walking into The End with a faint buzz and a smile on my face. The first band of the night, Butthole, was getting ready to start. The crowd was very thin, but that was OK. Sometimes one really gets to see what bands are made of when they’re only playing for 20-25 people. The female led four-piece has a surf punk feel to their arrangements, with more abrasive vocals, sometimes shrieking instead of singing. They were young, quite full of piss and vinegar, and raunchy from the start.

“I’m just a bitch, whore, slut,” the tall bassist sang on one number.  “I want to feel your dick,” they sang later. As a person who describes himself as crass, I was enjoying thier set immensely. The highlight for me was a near nonsensical rant about Wayne Brady on a song towards the end of their time. I’ll be very curious to see these gals (and guy on drums) around town again, when they hone their performance even more.

Next up was Michael Rault, whom my editor had recommended. The Toronto based indie-blues guitarist/singer has a sound that is hard to pin down. His stuff switched from southern tinged rock, to a more Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys) style blues picking with heavy fuzz distortion. Signed to Burger Records, one of my personal favorite indie labels, Rault does sing and write songs, but he’s not just another ‘singer songwriter,’ in the wussed out sense of that term, trust me. Michael is no fucking slouch on guitar, his playing is gritty, shred ready, lo-fi in the best way, and catchy as hell.

After his set, he gave me a copy of his latest record, Living Daylight, and it hasn’t left my car CD player since. It’s a badass LP, which he played almost in it’s entirety. Track/set highlights include the opener “All Alone (on my own),” “Lost Something,” and the grand finally of his performance “Suckcess”, which I played on repeat for at least two days straight. Amazing song.

Closing out a night of great indie rock, Happyness had come all the way from England to helm a DIY tour of The States. The pop punk, ambient sound power trio has worked with some bigs names, including Adam Lasts (Yo La Tengo, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah), on their latest record, Weird Little Birthday. I was already familiar with their stuff, but I was super jazzed to see them put it down live.

By the time they took the stage, it was after midnight, and unfortunately some of the audience members must have turned into pumpkins, because the already sparse crowd had thinned even more. No bother, they gave us a great show just the same. They use instrument distortion to perfect effect, while applying a screechy punk vocal. They reminded me a bit of early Weezer records; instantly likeable. They often switched off on instruments too, showing off some range. The lead guitarist would switch to keys, the bassist taking up the guitar. It was obvious they are supremely talented and pretty young. The future seems to be bright for them.

They ended their time on stage with a super chilled out cover of the Dusty Springfield classic, “I Only Want To Be With You,” that definitely had some Yo La Tengo vibes to it. Well done chaps. When they were done, they stepped off the front of the stage, and immediately began shaking hands and meeting the few people who still remained. They seemed like super nice, down to earth guys, but it was damn near 1 am by then, and I had to bail myself before I could mingle. All in all, it just goes to show you, whether it’s a Wednesday night hang or a Saturday night blow out … a crowd of 1,000 or just 15 … there’s great music being played every where in Nashville, 365 days a year. You just have to know where to find it, or at least have friends who do.

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