We entered Nashville around 2 p.m. Friday, making our first stop at Prince's Hot Chicken Shack (123 Ewing Dr. #3, Brooklyn Heights). This hole-in-the-wall gem was recommended by foodie friends and local dining guides and is rumored to be featured on an upcoming episode of Man v. Food. Prince's features a simple menu posted above a walk-up ordering window: a quarter (breast or leg), half and whole fried chicken and a handful of sides. Drinks are obtained from a vending machine. The dining room consists of around 7 booths.
What makes Prince's chicken special is it isn't tossed in sauce, it's dry-seasoned. Spice levels range from mild, medium, hot and extra hot. Thankfully, we had been warned about the spicy factor. This isn't old-lady-in-Cincinnati-spicy — Prince's seasoning is hot from the first bite and packs a punch long after you're done eating. At the risk of sounding like a total puss, I ordered my chicken medium and I felt like I was pregnant with a litter of habanero pepper puppies for a good hour afterward — and I love spicy food. We ordered two breasts, served on white bread with pickles. And - seriously, there's no other way to say this — it's fucking delicious.
Always a bit leery of meat, I've never been a big fan of fried chicken or anything with bones still in it. There was even a point in my life when I peeled off the fried skin. For shame! The chicken at Prince's is perfectly crisp and crunchy on the outside and unbelievable juicy and tender inside. Chicken quarters are served with one plastic fork, which you'd think could never navigate a fried bone-in chicken. Wrong! No knife needed for this fall-off-the-bone bird. Even the pickles and bread, which I'd usually toss, served as tasty aids in combating the heat of the spice.
Full of chicken and sweating spices, we checked into the Millennium Maxwell House (2025 Rosa L Parks Blvd., just outside Downtown). It was a decent hotel with a comfy bed, lots of cheesy country music decor and a ubiquitous gift shop.
Gates at Rites of Spring were set to open at 4 p.m., but shitty weather literally rained on that parade. I obsessively checked twitter for updates, until a tornado watch brought the definitely cancellation of Futurebirds, Pimps of Joytime and Jerrod Niemann. The rain kept pouring, and I wasn't about to get struck by lightning waiting in line for a concert that might not happen.
Once Vanderbilt's site announced that gates would tentatively open at 10:20, Jeff and I hopped on the complimentary hotel shuttle and headed over to campus.
The lines to get in were crowded and slow, though if you've been to Bonnaroo or a similarly-sized fest, nothing seems that bad. Rain continued to drizzle as Sara Bareilles, who was originally slated to play around 8 p.m., began her set around 10:30 p.m. Bareilles, best known (judging by the amount of girls singing in line) for "Love Song" wrapped up as we made our way through security. Each person of age was allotted six 12-ounce cans of beer, so every cooler and ID needed to be checked. I was surprised by the amount of Bud Light sixers passing through. As snooty as a large portion of the crowd was, you'd think they'd have better taste in beer. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our nice varietals of Blue Moon, Leinenkugel Summer Shandy and (reppin' Cincinnati) Little Kings - now in 12-ounce skinny cans!
Public Enemy was the next act to take stage. Seriously. Despite the weather and the murmuring of comments such as "I don't get it! Which one's Flavor Flav?" and "Why do they think we're all from Nashville? Don't they know this is a private university?" the crowd was pretty receptive. Once Flav displayed his signature neckwear, the show really took off.
"I think it's the one in the middle!"
Check D. and crew performed a short but sweet set of their hits including "Shut Em Down," "Fight the Power" and "Don't Believe the Hype" with a live band and the fantastic DJ Lord. And if you could just get over the bitter irony of telling preppy Pre-Meds being played at this particular venue, the show wasn't just fun, it actually sounded good!
At one point, Flav came out with a couple boys, whom one can only assume were two of his
28 seven children.
Flavor Flaaaaaaaav...needs a paycheck.
He then proceeded to fill tomorrow's world leaders with words of wisdom, including a random sputtering of "Do not be a robot!" throughout a few songs, and ending the show with, "Put two fingers in the air. What's that mean? Peace. Now put those fingers together. What's that mean? Togetherness. Now make a fist. With peace and togetherness comes power."
Whatever you say, Foofy Foofy.
Headliners The National switched up the mood a bit and crooned the crowd into a mellow state. The set was really poorly lit, with lights behind the band, but no spotlights. The guys went on after midnight and were unfortunately cut short — by having their lights and sound shut off before their set was finished. Boo, Vandy! What they did get to play was done well and they certainly made Cincinnati proud.
Here are some mediocre photos of them:
Stay tuned for more scenes from Rites of Spring and around Nashville!