Surviving a Nuclear War

Our intrepid correspondent makes it through nearly half of the 24-Hour Nuclear War

If They Push That Button, Your Ass Got to Go

Now that last weekend's high-concept endurance test 24-Hour Nuclear War is over, it doesn't seem so strange that the admittedly over-the-top "aural guerilla project" went off without incident or arrest. The concept was challenging—a series of 24 hour-long concerts, each at a different and progressively odder venue, like a cell phone on the corner or a van at the Jackson Avenue viaduct. And the bands were essentially doing one extended cover of the eight-minute long "Nuclear War" by the Sun Ra Arkestra. Though it seemed like it would be doomed to devolve into drunken boxing right around hour eight, the thing went off gracefully, and even on schedule.

For some people, it probably seems stranger that it's not still going on. To a lot of the die-hards (which I was not; I only made it to ten of the events) whose systems adjusted to the onslaught of second-hand smoke, inexpensive beer and being expected to yell "Nuclear War! Yeah!" every 25 seconds, the thing must have felt like a lifestyle. A terrifying lifestyle.

For the performers, the challenge may not have been endurance in the same way it was for the roving audience. They had the more formidable challenge of working within this gimmick and making it entertaining for an entire hour. Some, like Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere, who played at 8 p.m. Friday at Pilot Light, took an easygoing approach to it. The band did a semi-bluesy low-volume (so the audience could talk over it) improv session, with Steed charmingly, and often quite funnily, talking over the music. Others, like accordionist Fluxedo, who went on at Legacy an hour later, took an audience participation tack. She had with her a list of flash cards with lyrics from the original song—as well as some more topical entries—printed on them. Audience members held the cards up throughout the show and she would incorporate the phrases into her set. "What you gonna do without your ass?" and "3.29 a gallon" were popular.

Then there were some you couldn't quite figure out. Performance-art troupe Copperhead Red seemed to actually want to make you feel like you just walked out of the quintessential nightmare vision you get when someone says "poetry reading"—a bongo, an uncomfortable level of earnestness, non-sequitur lists of gourmet cheeses.

Then there were the performers who were so good they kept your attention just doing what they normally do. Some of the highlights included two-piece hip-hop/poetry group Black Atticus and Nijoli, who were at the Copyshop at midnight, one-man band Cain Blanchard at Host Clothing at 2 a.m., Bloomington, Ind., noise outfit the Virgin Killers at the Birdhouse at 3 a.m., and noontime drum-and-guitar (emphasis on the drum) loudness with Chris Rusk, Ryan Schaefer, and Sam Stratton at the Basement Gallery.

(Charles Maldonado)

Fourth and Long for the Gridiron Bash

The pep rally can go. So can Montgomery Gentry. But no Taylor Swift? That's too bad.

The Gridiron Bash pep rally and concert featuring Montgomery Gentry and Swift, scheduled to be held on Friday, April 18—the night before the University of Tennessee's spring Orange and White football game—has been canceled. A representative from MSL Sports and Entertainment, the company promoting 16 Gridiron Bash events across the country this spring, says one athletic conference expressed fears that the participation of football players in the concert might violate NCAA regulations about special privileges for student-athletes.

MSL says they plan to re-schedule the Gridiron bash for fall.

(Matthew Everett)