Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bad Cop at Pianos

When he was nine years old, Adam Moult’s family moved from Joplin, Missouri, to Nashville, Tennessee. Three years later, he was playing in punk bands at a local pizza parlor. Three years after that, he was sent away against his will to a “prison alternative” boarding school for at-risk youth, where the conditions were so abusive that the institution was sued out of existence. While he was incarcerated in this North Georgia youth prison/boot-camp, Moult starting writing songs that reflected his anguish. Upon returning to Nashville in 2008, he formed Bad Cop. Bad Cop released the album Harvest the Beast in 2010, but shortly thereafter, Moult scrapped the entire band, choosing to re-launch with longtime friend and collaborator Alex Harkness. They solidified the lineup with bassist Mike Frazier and drummer Kevin Kilpatrick and recorded the group's latest EP, Light On.

At Pianos tonight, Bad Cop proved that country music is not the only music being spawned in Nashville. With roots that were equal parts classic blues-rock and punk rock, Bad Cop ended up sounding like a spin-off of the Who circa 1967, somewhere between the mod pop assault of “Magic Bus” and the explosive power of Tommy. The song structures borrowed from the Who’s pent up dynamics with a Roger Daltry-styled moderation. Yet Bad Cop’s music sounded darker and more unnerving. Maybe Moult’s music originated from a dark place because Moult himself emerged from such a dark place. Bad Cop’s performance was engaging because, like much true art, the music articulated an inner angst.