Go here to read part one.
Somehow Saturday morning Jeff and I woke up bright and early. Flavor Flav must have sprinkled some magic dust on us the night before, because we weren't our usual hungover pieces of shit, writhing under covers 'til noon. For this special occasion, we headed to the famous Loveless Motel & Cafe (8400, Tennessee 100, Bellevue), a comfort food mecca and Nashville landmark. Hundreds of country musicians and otherwise famous humans hung their hats here when it was a hotel and have stopped in for grub since it's been a restaurant (seriously, there are countless autographed head shots covering every square inch of the walls).
Saturday brunch is a busy time anywhere, but at Loveless, it's packed from the windows to the walls. Jeff and I were given a 45 minute-1 hour wait time, though it was probably more like an hour-and-a-half. Fortunately, there are tons of little shops on the Loveless property and everyone knows spending more money totally helps you ignore your growling stomach. We sauntered in and out of a bike shop, an antique spot and one little new-agey business that seemed plucked from Clifton's Ludlow Avenue. But the best place to wait it out was Hams & Jams Country Market.
This little gift shop sold Loveless goodies like T-shirts, coffee mugs and ash trays as well as kitchenware and bacon-related items. Like bacon-scented air fresheners and -flavored toothpicks. A little television played a montage of clips commemorating Carol Fay Ellison, best known in Nashville and beyond as "The Biscuit Lady." Carol Fay worked her way up from dishwasher to head cook and the keeper of Loveless' ultra-secret biscuit recipe. Before passing away in 2010, The Biscuit Lady cooked her treats for Martha Stewart, Conan O'Brien, Katie Couric, Al Roker and more. She was a sassy character, never sharing any of her cooking secrets, but eager to boast that her recipe was the best. OK, watching this video was really interesting but it certainly didn't help the hunger pangs.
Finally, our buzzer went off, notifying us of an open table. Our friendly server quickly brought our Mimosa-for-two and those sacred biscuits with homemade peach, strawberry and blackberry preserves.
The Biscuit Lady ain't no liar.
Wow. After some carby sustenance, it was time to order. But doesn't it suck when you can't decide between breakfast or dinner food? It was still early enough for eggs, but the sweet smell of barbecue that encompasses the entire property made my decision tough. Then, the gates of Heaven opened as three words glowed from the menu: Barbecue Pork Omelet. At first glance, I thought, "BBQ and eggs? Ew." But I immediately retracted that thought and ordered the omelet with a side of hashbrown casserole. Jeff put his man pants on and selected the Southern Sampler breakfast, including country ham, bacon, sausage, eggs and sausage gravy with biscuits. Surely, we thought, this is going to take another 30 minutes to come out of the kitchen.
Oh, that omelet looks goo-
Holy shit, that's half a pig!
This food and service was unbelievable. I really think that top secret recipe might have been laced with LSD, because periodically, we'd just burst out laughing between bites. It was euphoric.
Needless to say, there was a recovery period afterward. Napping (and perhaps being entranced by a Toy Story marathon on hotel premium cable) did cause us to miss out on a few acts at day two of Rites of Springs. Sorry, Young Jesus, David Mayfield Parade, The Features and Madi Diaz. I'm sure you were awesome. Though lines to get in the fest were long once again, we did get into Vanderbilt in time to see Dance Punk duo Matt and Kim. Besides their catchy, drum-heavy numbers, they also played Hip Hop classics "Jump on it" and "Let Me Clear My Throat."
As they ended their set with their biggest hit, "Daylight," Jeff and I made out way as close to the stage as possible. We were most excited about the next act - Psycadelic Folk gypsies, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
Setting up for a 10-piece group can take a while, and the music between sets was provided by a scratched CD filled with plenty of sing-a-longs like Cee-Lo's "Fuck You" and Aretha Franklin's "Respect." Members of ES&MZ and Old Crow Medicine Show filtered onto stage and then, finally, we saw Alex Ebert (sporting his signature junky Jesus look) and Jade Castrinos (adorable as always), the whimsical lead vocalists and probably the most recognizable members.
The crew opened with their mystifying hits "40 Day Dream" and "Janglin" (which you might have heard in the recent Ford Fiesta commercial). They were some of the best live performers I've seen, perfect for an outdoor festival-esque venue.
Alex then addressed the crowd, snickering, "I heard you singing before, you can't sing now? You knew every fuckin' word of those songs playing before we started." He made a few occasional tongue-in-cheek, but not totally dick remarks throughout the set, proving that while he'd got the crackhead shimmy move down, he's pretty lucid and probably a normal dude. Example: "What is this, Vanderbilt College?" [Various "Woo Hoo"s and shouts about it being a University, not a college] "When I was in school, that last thing I'd do was cheer for it."
After a few mellower tunes, one of which Alex sung from inside the crowd, he began to speak about how you're not really alive until you learn how to whistle. Fans, of course, knew this meant the last song would be "Home," which you can see in adorable father-daughter-cover form here.
Even taking into account the dudes tripping on acid for the first time behind me, I could have listened to them replay that set as soon as they'd finished. Hippie Cult Rock perfection.
The night's headliner, and the act to draw the largest crowd by far was Kid Cudi. Let me say this: I really wanted to like him. I'm not totally down with contemporary Hip Hop, but I was ready for a fun show. The throngs of teenagers at Vanderbilt will probably disagree, but Cudi was kinda lame. The fact that I was about 4,000 feet away probably didn't help.
He had a decent DJ and his production was top notch, but I really didn't care for the dude. On top of his songs being kind of meh, dude wouldn't stop talking about himself. At one point, he said, "So I know y'all probably heard I quit weed. Yeah, it's true, I had to. It was getting in the way of my life. If you're one of those people that can take a hit at a party, have a couple drinks with friends and not keep alcohol in your house, that's OK. But that's not me. I gotta focus on my daughter now." He then went on to sing "Marijuana," punctuating the stoner tune with shouts of "I miss it!" Probably anyone who prefaces a love letter to "pretty green bud" like that is gonna get a thumbs down from me. Sorry.
After his rant about how hard it is for artists like him, we felt it was time to take a note from Edward Sharpe and head home. To the hotel at least. Though we weren't thrilled with the culmination of Rites, it was still totally worth the trip.
Don't miss out on our last day in Nashville - stay tuned for part three!