This fair town of ours, as a whole, set another precedent for following St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans yet again this year. But on the corner of Lytle and Maney, the holiday’s traditional green hues took a back seat allowing the red, white and blue of the Tennessee state flag to ride shotgun while holding the rustic browns of old barn wood, raccoon tails and custom-made showpiece bikes on its lap for the March 17 FINX Fest exhibition in the old bar turned glass-paned art house, Dunaway’s Gallery, at 312 Maney Ave.
The show was inspired by and honored FINX Bike Club President and Gaskill Hop Shop Owner Adam Gaskill’s gnarly-welded, chain and gear inspired metal and woodwork. Everything from old skis converted to longboards, the occasional gun on the wood-paneled walls, his truck parked out in front, and of course, the custom bikes propped against and hanging all over Dunaway’s were all detailed with his signature intricate pinstripes too. Musical guests The Piscottis, Tennessee Scum and Polekatt Molasses set a surf punk and loopy blues soundtrack to the dimly lit, laid-back and mostly ideal-weathered street party for the newest rugged bike venture Murfreesboro has to offer as the consistently waxing crowd of all ages gathered in the street (until about 9 p.m., when parents put the babies to bed and snuck back for just a few minutes longer).
FINX Bike Club began about two years ago as a play on the late ’60s Australian motorcycle gang. The club was spawned from the brains and hard work of a seemingly growing fraternal group of Southern artists that cover every position within the club needed to get the FINX name off the ground and pedaling. Contributing to the exhibit’s success that night included members ranging from their own architects who scoured old Middle Tennessee barns for display platforms, stage materials and good ole Tennessee decor, to musicians headlining such as FINX Vice-president Blake Becker of Polekatt Molasses. Also, their photographers covered for the FINX-related blogs and ran the merchandise tables with a few attractive and well-placed ladies who contributed some of the bikes and artwork as well. Warmly thanked by them all, though, was the owner of the ideal-for-the-occasion Maney shop, Leslie Roberts, who stepped up for the organization, provided the venue and helped block off the 300 block of Maney to show the community what the guys were collectively working with.
Outside the woodsy old store front was everything a good bike shop would have for all ages, such as skating platforms and grinding rails to the left of the entrance, a graffiti wall inviting BYO spray paint to the right, and in the middle of it all before the front doors was a generous shotgun grill setup serving burgers, hot dogs, sodas and beers for a buck. And of course, the 50 some-odd bicycles Gaskill Hop Shop show patrons rode in from all over for the festivities.
Ah, the fixings for a fine block party.
“The keyword behind FINX is ‘value,’” said club contributor Christoph Hill. “[We’re] doing this as kind of a going away thing before [touring] around the U.S.” And as they all put in good work, a huge amount of attention was given to born-and-raised Tennessee boy Adam Gaskill, who recently graduated from the MTSU art department with the skills to supply the beautiful two-wheeled monster creations that can almost be heard gnarling through their jagged metal edges when admired up close. It’s Gaskill’s art that will hit the road heading north this summer to cities in the Michigan and Minnesota areas, so far, blogging on the way.
“I’m graduated a couple of years now, but I went to school for art and built bikes as half of my degree. […] I just kind of evolved inside of this bike club called The FINX and my shop started getting on,” Gaskill said about his Franklin, Tenn., based Gaskill Hop Shop where he produced material for the show including raw footage of another evolving idea impressively previewed: a movie trailer titled Death Truck, filmed at Raccoon Mountain on a little handheld Elf camera and projected onto the front of Dunaway’s under the roof’s peak as the sun began to set. Gaskill’s old flat-black Ford pickup stars in the movie-in-progress (as well as propped up the projector across the street) looking as jagged as the bikes and growling, too, through its custom-welded, toothy grill and red headlights, if you got too close.
But wait. The sounds of three bands also accompanying the visual, adding to the festivities.
The Piscottis set up in the back of the room on the small, handmade stage lined with what appeared to be the old Opry-esque lanterns. They looked like the ones Johnny Cash kicked, but upon closer inspection, they were electric Christmas candles with mason jars overturned on top of them epitomizing the ingenuity of the whole night. And if anyone were to kick them out, it looked like the young, rambunctious trio of bass, drums and female screamer/guitarist would, all decked out in casual punk attire screaming “Who’s drunk yet?!” before playing. Instead of property damage, though, The Piscottis provided ear damage with a six-song set of California-ish, Atari Teenage Riot inspired punk songs starting the trend among bands that evening to keep everything turned up to the brilliant level of 11.
After equipment was swapped out and set up, and after a couple more cigarettes were smoked, Murfreesboro’s own extremely hungover quintet of a couple guitars, bass and drums with a tambourine kicker, Tennessee Scum hunkered down and rang out whammied surf-grunge in very decent fashion rocking well-placed guitar fuzz, feedback and string screeches over all the Scum singing along with one another, having a blast. The sky had begun to drop a little bit during Tennessee Scum’s set, though, bringing the bonus of intimacy with everyone closing in under the aluminum shop-front overhang and on inside. “It smells like the most elegant raw bologna in this motherfucker,” a patron was heard saying to the surrounding people’s amusement.
As the rain stopped, so did Tennessee Scum’s 10-song set, giving way for FINX Vice-president Blake Becker and his drummer/grillman for the event, Dave, to give the crowd a taste of their first time playing in public together.
Becker stuck with chill blues riffs on an old black Gibson, looped over each other through the effects pedal at his feet and out of a small wooden Gaskill-detailed amp as Dave the drummer set up his kit. Once set up, though, Becker, with his long beard, dedicated drunken eyes and denim jacket, reached down and retrieved an old-school lever-action See-N-Say, but instead of barnyard animal sounds like “The Cow says Moooooo”, it spoke bike safety rules. Becker used this as a turntable for the rest of the evening, free style rapping along until the duo melded back together to finish out a somewhat calming blues jam set putting patrons at peace with the end of the evening.
“This is kind of a sneak preview of what the future holds,” said Becker, as the barbed-wire chandelier gently swayed and shone warm light around the room.
Keep your eyes open for updates on the FINX Bike Club’s progression, their US tour beginning this summer. That, along with merchandise (T-shirts, stickers, raccoon tails), as well as other Gaskill endeavors can be found through gaskillhopshop.com or finxbc.com. Other than the sites, they’re not the easiest outfit to find, but when you do, you may find it worthwhile.