The Southside Nitty Gritty DIY fest takes over houses and ears of Glen Iris

Happenin’ Fest Saturday was rad as expected, but last Friday night a lesser known all ages fest in Southside known as the “Nitty Gritty” featured local and touring bands, spread across four houses in the Glen Iris area. Trevor Dane of Hawaii and the Freaky Deakys did a great job of organizing the Nitty Gritty, and all of the host houses, bands, and audience made it complete.
hawaii nitty gritty
(Hawaii live in basement on 1612, photo courtesy Christina Daley)
The first house “1612” started the full evening of music with Them Natives. Despite it being an acoustic set outside, it seemed like the crowd was still feeling it and most people outside at the time actually listened. They are one of my favorite currently active Birmingham bands so of course I was into it, but it was great to see them capture the crowd before sunset. Next at 1612, Hawaii did an improv set in the basement. I love how Hawaii’s shows are never the same set twice. They have a couple songs they play from the demo, but it’s really about putting on a live show. They get a rowdy at certain points and you never know when it’s coming. I feel that energy really engages the crowd, and people who didn’t know them before will remember Hawaii. The last act at 1612 was D. Bramble from Huntsville, who played outside. Local virtuoso Walker Yancey of Hawaii assisted Patrick Bakula during his set by playing the chain and saw percussion. After they closed out 1612, the crowd migrated to Eerie, Indiana for the next two bands.

The first band to play at the second house was Ray Creature, all the way from Bloomington, Indiana. They were a tight two piece which reminded me a little of the Bauhaus feel, and a friend of mine referenced Depeche Mode. Their set was differnent than a lot of what Birmingham locals are used to, encompassing synth keyboard and an electronic drum set. Along those lines, I really dug their set and the music was sexy. I actually told them that later, to which they replied “That’s the point.”

Next was Bad Psychic, also hailing from Bloomington, Indiana. Her solo act looped synth parts as she played bass guitar and sang. I really liked it, especially as someone who is currently working on my own solo material. Some of her sound reminded me of Fever Ray, which in my book is always an awesome comparison. Though the next door neighbor got a little cranky about the noise, Bad Psychic finished her set strong then the crowd made the walk down the street to the next house venue, The Alabama Hotel.

The Alabama Hotel had biscuits and other snacks for sale, showing a little Southern hospitality. The Freaky Deakys (featuring members of the aforementioned Hawaii and Electric Sheep) got the crowd moving with frontman Trevor Dane. It had been years since I’d seen that band active. The last time being in Tuscaloos and even with a different lineup, it was still just as energetic and fun live. Dead Balloons were tight as always, and as much as they practice in that basement it was cool to finally see them play to an audience in their own house.

Down the street, The Southside Lounge closed out the night with the sets of The Steel Sisters, Andy Dale Petty, and local touring legend Dan SartainThe Steel Sisters’ and Andy Dale Petty’s sets were very intimate. The red carpet on the stage and the lighting of the stage gave it this golden glow, which showcased the intimate setting of the basement. Dan Sartain’s set was great. It was a really classic kind of rock show.  There was also a bar already built into one of the side rooms in the basement, which Rolfe of Electric Sheep, aka Tremolo Bill, described as being like the Old West. Across the same room was a corner with two couches and a table — complete with people playing cards — enhancing the Old West saloon feel (even if the alcohol is not flowing from the bar). Last but not least, people sat naked in the jacuzzi together in the bathroom connected to the show room.

Nitty Gritty Friday fun night was closed out with an impromptu set around 3am by The Steel City Jug Slammers. 

House resident David Maclay stated that the vision for The Southside Lounge is for “an emerging scene of local artists to be supported and appreciated by other locals.” He also added that they do not host exclusively acoustic shows. “We just strive for events with a more intimate setting. We support music of all styles.” Tremolo Bill is booking the upcoming Step Showcase there, so stay tuned for future shows at The Southside Lounge.

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