On Saturday, April 1st, we checked in as media at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Nashville, TN, and enjoyed some coffee in the sunlit deli area on the bridge in Belmont 3. We went over some press materials for some interviews that were approaching in just a few days, before heading out to lunch at the Wildhorse Saloon (which we highly recommend).
That evening, we attended the Third Day "Wherever You Are Tour" date that hit Nashville for one exceptional evening of music. [For my full review of the evening, click here]
To cap off a great evening, we attended a special ceremony for Third Day's achieving Gold status of their newest record Wherever You Are, met some delightful Gomers (aka diehard Third Day fans), and called it a night.
Sunday was the real start to GMA Week. Rather laid back from the start of the day till its rainy finish, Sunday was a nice beginning. We got the day going with the GMA Artist Meet & Greet which ended up being considerably different than last year's free-for-all. Tables were set up with merch for each artist in attendance, and lines formed at each table for fans to come in and meet the bands and artists. Last year felt more professional, however, as the artists were stationed with mere stacks of 8x10s displayed on small tables so that they may sign complimentary photos for media, radio, and retail attendees. The new setup allowed for almost anyone to get in, and it made for just your typical after-show signing setup. While this approach was undeniably more organized, it felt more rushed and less relaxed. Although last year seemed somewhat frenzied in the mix of masses in the Renaissance Ballroom, it seemed to still leave room for more conversational interaction than a mere "Hi, how are ya, sign this please, thanks, have a good one!" It also left room for the media hounds. It felt a little intrusive to have a few fans in line followed up by a camera crew ready to shove a mic in an artist's face. When did a meet & greet become a press conference?
Sunday evening featured the first real conflict of showcases. The annual worship evening took place the same night as indie label Selectric Records' own showcase at the Mercy Lounge. Amy and I retreated to a Starbucks to do some work, running into the delightful KJ-52 in the process. Tired and sleep deprived, we then dragged ourselves to the Selectric showcase, showing up fashionably late (of course). The label's most promising new act, Dalton, was on stage when we got there, performing the deliciously catchy "Overlight" from their forthcoming debut Taste The Sky. And after including a moving rendition of "Life Afraid," and the more raucous, less delicate "Take What You Want," the band's sadly brief set ended, making way for the funk-flavored pop of Cross Culture to assume the spotlight. The clean cut appearance of the band didn't seem to mesh with their soulful approach to music, and the songs seemed to play out with mixed results. A rap interlude to the evening followed, featuring Man Of War first with his somewhat cheesy and common approach to Christian rap. When it was later revealed that much more talented artists like KJ and Playdough were in attendance, it made me long for a set of theirs. The familiar Redcloud soon replaced him, opening with a song that sounded all too much like an Eminem emulator. While his rhyme ability was impressive, his vocal style was an acquired taste. However, the jaw-dropping highlight of the evening was Redcloud's clever (and often quite humorous) improv performance. Redcloud asked the audience to pick any random object on their person and hold it up so he might work each of the random items into a freestyle rap... and he did... to remarkable results. From a gum wrapper to a shoe to a dollar bill, there didn't seem to be anything he couldn't work into the rhyme flawlessly.
Selectric's most successful artist to date, Monday Morning, drew the most enthusiastic crowd of the night, as they brought their brand of pop rock to the stage. Given their more subdued, radio-friendly rock presence, it seemed that lead vocalist Derek Stipe was maybe a little too excited and aggressive in his delivery. But the audience responded well, especially when the band would finally break into their melodic hit single "Wonder Of It All."
The night ended on a more eccentric note with hard rock band Homeless J. With a stage persona that radiated a "We're much better at this than you could ever hope or imagine" attitude, while delivering an unoriginal rock sound that drew far too much comparison to secular rockers AudioSlave, the band was a disappointing finish. While their sound was strong, it was robbed of any real significance due to its blatant familiarity, and it was sad to watch the venue begin clearing out during their set (although it was considerably late by this time). Recognizable faces were in the audience throughout the evening, which was likely to make some long for those artists' performances. And most significantly, each member of the long defunct rock act Guardian were there. Their presence seemed to only serve as a tease to those who noticed (and remembered) them. [Note: Hope is not all lost, however, as it was made known to JFH that night that the band has a special studio project slated for August...] Sunday came to a damp and electifying close as a lightning storm lit up much of the Nashville sky. And what better way to end the night than with White Castle and bolts of lightning?On to Monday... -- John DiBiase, 4/20/06
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