I sleep with my hands across my chest…

So I got to attend a private party at the Mercy Lounge last night for winners of a contest sponsored by Jack Daniels. The winners were all British and flown to Nashville for a tour of the JD distillery in Lynchburg and a concert with The Features, The Editors and Maximo Park. My friend Tracy was kind enough to pass along the info to get me on the guest list (thanks, Tracy). Though as it turned out neither she nor I was listed. They let us in anyway.

I got there just as the Features started playing. They are truly a great band. I hope they continue playing music for a good, long time. I don’t listen to their music that often but I don’t know many bands (and any local?) who put on such a good show–it’s fun but at the same time professional. They closed with “Thursday” which I haven’t heard in years. Have they been playing it?

Anyway, how good the Features are was highlighted by the second band, Editors (or The Editors, I don’t know which). They were a competent enough band, but annoying. To me at least. They sounded a little like Idlewild and Interpol but with too much Coldplay thrown in. I thought last night that I might describe them as “if Coldplay were cool” but then I decided that was a self-negating statement and besides, near the end of the set the singer did so many ridiculous, tortured arm movements that I couldn’t use the word “cool” to describe anything about them. If Coldplay are the Dave Matthews of English music, Editors are the Jason Mraz. But not as smiley.

Maximo Park are another band (like Diamond Nights) that I am an idiot for not talking about incessantly. They have been kicking my ass for months. They play very short, very sharp, incredibly taut post-punk. On record, their guitar and keyboards are incredibly thin, but the whole sound is punchy and incredibly direct. (Do you get the feeling that I think they’re incredible?) The voice is clear; the melodies are economical and catchy. It’s just fantastic. Live, they were much fuller. The guitar was bigger and the whole machine was more rock than the record belies. But just as direct, if not more so.

Singer Paul Smith (whose slicked over hair and trim black suit presents him as one of the Krays–or maybe just those dudes from Spandau Ballet who played the Krays in the movie) is frenetic–jumping, dancing in an angular fashion, and just shooting his words out. But he never missed a note and though the movements were certainly dramatic, it was never histrionic. Keyboardist Lukas Wooller was just as expressive. The two of them at one point had a little karate chop duel during an instrumental break in a song.

They played a great set featuring much of their debut album A Certain Trigger and a couple of oddities. The excellent B-side “Fear of Falling” which appears on the “Apply Some Pressure” single and a new song. They closed their encore by playing Stereolab’s “French Disco” with members of the Editors joining them on stage.

The sound was great (except for the Editors for whom I needed earplugs); the atmosphere bizarre (skimpily-dressed women serving fried BBQ); but the entire evening was brilliant.