Rosy cheeks, messy hair, lipstick, lace, garters – there’s no missing them. Jessi and Nikki smile like goddesses, and Those Darlins pour onto the stage with all the grungy sensuality that comes with 10 good years of Nashville rock and roll. But there’s some weight to their steps as they take their spots, a bittersweet pall cast from two words since winter, “indefinite hiatus,” and the spine-tingling realization that this is really it. Baby’s All Right is packed. The crowd offers up a decade’s worth of applause.
“I just wanna run and play in the dirt with you, you just wanna stick it in!” Jessi protests with a wink on “Be Your Bro,” breezing through the feisty lines as a stomp-ready beat rambles beneath them. The audience hollers and dances in the sweltering pit, fans already ripping off shirts to lasso them overhead, bras dangerously close to being next. And right from their first ‘last’ song, Those Darlins had made a strong case for never splitting in the first place. But they were sure as hell going out with a bang. “Are we even gonna tune? Does it even matter?” laughed Linwood as the sound guy cranked up the volume.
Under the black cherry lights, they focused on their specialty: the kind of sultry songs that should always be sung with whiskey on your lips, delivered with the unashamed twang that makes Those Darlins so damn fun. But the rockers really rocked, cutting loose at every turn. They waxed psychedelic, shredding over darker, trippier progressions with Nikki’s guitar behind her head, Jessi’s eyes wide and spooky. They mixed funk, punk, and blues, slipping on each style like an old leather jacket and surging into double-time segments on a dime. Then they took it back to 1963, bouncing through their much-loved cover of “Then He Kissed Me” with Foxygen’s Emily Panic, a pinup-girl sway, and no holds barred.
Those Darlins bridged genres in a way that even made headbanging appropriate, and their fans were totally on board, tumbling onstage to sing karaoke with them, because what the hell? They raced against the venue’s curfew, until one fan yelled wildly, “What are they going to do, not invite you back?” Spurred on by the loving crowd, Those Darlins finished their last performance with an encore of “Red Light Love” and an incredible cover of “Shakin’ All Over,” with hugs and tears quick to follow. “Let’s dance!” Nikki shouted right before they left the stage. She was just inviting us to the bar, but they were perfect, unintentional last words for a band who’s bound to keep us dancing long after they’ve parted ways.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley