TVD Live: Music City Mayhem Awards at
The Rutledge, 3/24

As a community, we tend to overemphasize this, but it’s important for all to know… Nashville is more than just Country music. The city is flourishing with genres galore and exceptionally skilled musicians to boot.

There is a big Rock scene here, but it seems to be divided into groups. There’s the Indie crowd that caters to softer, organic Rock and Garage Rock, and then, there’s the bands you might hear on corporate Rock radio, if given their big break.

For one reason or another, the latter tends to get less media attention than the Indie world, so I decided to check out the Music City Mayhem Awards last Saturday night at The Rutledge, an event put on by Dungeon Promotions, as a way to recognize and reward local Hard Rock and Metal bands.

I got there early in order to catch all bands on the schedule, and the place was filling up quickly—surprising for 6:00 PM. From the merch area, I could hear a band named Carving Vinyl playing, but couldn’t see them. When I got in view of the stage, I was shocked to see how young they were. They definitely sounded older, and the description on their Facebook page justifies why that is: “We want to mix the rawness of old music such as AC/DC, Dokken, even Elvis, with the appeal of more commercially appealing groups like Bon Jovi, Metallica, and VanHalen.”

Jarod Delgado was up next, performing an acoustic set that broke things up nicely. Delgado has a calming voice, and dare I say that it’s “pretty.” He has the type of pipes that could adapt to any format—even new Broadway or boy band; however, his style falls into that Aaron Lewis of Staind vein. If that’s your thing, you’ll want to check out his debut album, Don’t Hold Back. It just came out on the 23rd, and the track “Here And Now” won the Music City Mayhem Award for Best Rock Song.

Shamefully, I was judgmental and weary of the next band. Question the Chaos had won an award for People’s Choice – Best Metal Band, and this show was their very first performance. Granted, they had a lot of existing fans from their former band, Forgotten Fable, but I felt the praise was a bit premature. I’ll admit, they proved me wrong.

That strange force field in front of the stage that many are afraid to break through at local shows filled up without hesitation once Question the Chaos was up. They still have that “fake it ‘til you make it” demeanor that Forgotten Fable had (complete with dramatic intro music), but hey, I’m all for thrills. Entertain me; that’s what I pay for.

You can tell the band is confident, and they have a right to be. They sounded great, and the new singer’s tone cuts through the Metal, making them less intense than Fable in a positive way. I also like the singer’s choice to go sans face paint. The old singer was very talented and a big part of Fable’s (and Question the Chaos’) popularity, but this version of the band is a better balance.

You know you’re doing a good job when people in the crowd are looking for fuck ups. So, kudos to Question the Chaos. Overall, I can say that they were the best performance of the night.

Winner of Best Metal Band and Best Metal Vocals, 3 Minutes to Live took the stage with the singer wearing high fashion attire: a bathrobe, a beanie, sunglasses, and a Cookie Monster t-shirt. These guys reminded me of my teenage days hanging in the Wormtown Hardcore scene. There was a throwback ‘90s vibe, with the second song leaning into a KoЯn-like melodic groove. Then, a cover of Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle with You,” which I think they should rename to “Stuck in the METAL with You.”

One issue—where was the mosh pit? I was so disappointed with the head-bouncing crowd—except for the one woman who was rocking out and thrashing it with all her might throughout the night. She rocked.

At this point, my pregnant ass was starving, and the venue had quit serving food due to the volume of orders. The place was pretty darn packed, so I made my way through the tribal pattern shirts and the half-clothed girls adorned in sparkly body paint to the restaurant next door to get myself a dang quesadilla.

When I got back, Manic Bloom was just about done with their set. I was able to catch the last two songs, and they added a great dynamic to the show. Holy crap, a keyboard! That was a first and only for the evening.

Manic Bloom is a little something for the ladies. Good-looking guys banging out something danceable. As the singer said, they incorporate a little bit of everything: Metal, Rock, Pop, and even some Reggae. In the last song, they even spanned to Hip-Hop, having a guest rapper join them on a Linkin Park-esque number. I really enjoyed these guys. Check out their video for their song, “Death and Conversation,” that won Best Music Video.

Intruder was at the total other end of the spectrum from Manic Bloom. These guys were seasoned, loud, and fast, with some killer high-pitched screams and serious shredding. However, I couldn’t stop gawking at the dude in the corner of the stage, clearly just watching the show and throwing up devil horns. Was he some form of hype man sidekick? So distracting, but equally hilarious. (You have to remember, we are hours deep in this now, and the bar has run out of cheap beer.)

Intruder (formerly signed by Metal Blade) won the “Comeback of the Year” title, and after the show, they stated on their Facebook page that “it was killer making Nashville ‘Thrashville’ again.”

Harlott (Photo Credit: Aaron Keel – Head’s Pics)

Next, Harlott geared up for their set while the People’s Choice – Rock Band category was announced. Conveniently, Harlott took that honor (along with Best Rock Drummer, J Sherrod, earlier in the night). I’ve seen this band many times, and I love their Sunset Strip character. When I say that, people think Cock Rock and Hair Bands, but they are more Guns N’ Roses meets Motörhead with a classic ‘70s tinge and a dash of swamp. They are rough, not cheesy, and the mix of influences make for a sound that’s universal. I feel like they could totally crossover to that other Indie side, if branding stereotypes were overlooked.

Harlott played some new songs to a receptive crowd that deviate a bit from their last record. I’m sensing a move to more radio friendly songs with an Aerosmith texture, and I likey. Harlott is playing Mercy Lounge on April 4th, so if you’re in the area, check them out.

Stigma Strain (Best New Artist and Best Metal Song) brought an aggressive close to the night, and in turn, finally got the mosh pit going! Leave it to the youngsters to spark the revolution. At this point, the rock had been brought, and people were trying to sweat out their alcohol intake.

The Music City Mayhem Awards were a huge success and a great way for me to see the best of a side of the Nashville music scene that I usually pass up. This was only the second year of the award show, so I can only imagine it will get bigger in future.

For a full list of this year’s nominees and winners, visit Dungeon Promotions.

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