Last night marked the first of five big local shows leading up to Friday’s world premiere of “Towncraft,” a documentary about the Little Rock DIY music scene twenty years in the making.
Walking into White Water Tavern at 10 p.m., after having circled the block twice for a parking spot, I found that the red-headed, thick-bearded, singer-songwriter Kevin Kerby had already taken the stage. At that point, you could still make your way into the bar, up to the bar, and to the front of the stage with only a fair amount of effort. Standing close, I caught my favorites of his “Dip It in Shellac” and “Secret Lives of All Night Radios.”
By the time the Bloodless Cooties went on, the crowd size had seemingly doubled, which I didn’t think possible, or legal, and, soon enough, it got smoky and steamy in there. (The tiger lily in my hair wilted, sadly.) The Cooties’ bluesy garage-rock loosened up the tightly-packed crowd.
Around 11:30 p.m., we got a quick break as the Moving Front warmed up. The band’s lead singer Jeremy Brasher looked deceivingly demure in a dress shirt and black slacks, his dark hair combed neatly. Taking the mike in his hand, he said, in that growl of his, that it was a great day for the band, playing on the day Jerry Falwell died. He said we’d lost Jerry Falwell and Ronald Reagan in the last three years, and added “I’d say it’s been a good three years.” Then, the band ripped into their rowdy aggro-rock routine working everybody into a frenzy (much like the dancing scene in the band’s video “Zombies” only bigger and wilder). A video camera hung down from the rafters and photographers clicked away at the ensuing mayhem. A burly, often-times barefooted member of the Damn Bullets (Paul, I think?) was lifted up and passed off to rows and rows of hands, crowd-surfing White Water.
Stopping only to ask for a pitcher of beer (or two), the band played an hour-long, no-holds-barred set including “The Equalizer,” which got everybody worked up. Guitarist Colin Miles noticed. At the song’s end, he smiled and said: “Yeah, that’s a good one.” Soaked with sweat and red in the face, Brasher and his boys finally called it a night. I parted with friends, paid my tab and walked out into the cool rain. I don’t know if a film can document moments like the ones at White Water last night, especially twenty years worth, but we’ll soon find out how close they came when “Towncraft” premieres at Riverdale 10 on Friday night.