Running with Scissors and Five Foot Mullet may have set the stage for this year’s music scene as they performed sensational sets this weekend at The Sophisticated Otter.

It was one of those nights that people will talk about for a long time, too. When we arrived, the rain was just beginning to fall and there was a line waiting to get inside one of Johnson City’s premiere nightspots. The Otter was literally simmering with kinetic energy — it was frantic, loud and packed with people. As we slithered our way to the back room we were excited to see an other great turnout of local players and promoters including Blind Sight, Goodspeed and Ansley Roberts.

This show was our “best bets” last week because of all the rumors we’ve heard about Five Foot Mullet. Their Web site at gives you a good idea of the craziness that materializes when this four-piece band takes the mic. Wherever they go they usually leave a trail of dust from a whirl wind that blows in along with the band, too. When we learned that Running with Scissors would open the night, we knew this show would be extraordinary.

Running with Scissors is an original band from Blacksburg, Va., and I first heard them live last summer and recognized a simmering talent that heads west often to play the Tri-Cities. The band had been working on a performance with The Mullet for almost a year and you could tell that they were looking forward to this show.

As I watched Aaron Barr sing over a crowd of bouncing heads, I realized that this band has an enigmatic sound that could easily slice its way into the mainstream of rock radio. I’m not certain any adjectives could describe this band accurately because they fold a lot of influences into their music, but their talent is impeccable and as they perform more fans will continue to experience what could be one of the best original bands playing our circuit.

It’s been said that when the band and the audience feed off one another, the performance is that much better. That must have been the circumstances during “Distracted,” one of the songs on the new Running with Scissors CD. As they worked the audience up on the last chorus, the band built a staircase to the top of the room and pushed the audience over the edge. Just when we were falling off their final notes, the band soared back into the applause of the crowd with a reprise that elevated the audience that much more.

During the break, I spoke to Jonathan French. His brother David plays guitar in the band and he was all smiles about the performance and commented that “Something happened that was fantastic to see … a big crowd showing tremendous enthusiasm for live original music, and that benefits the whole scene.”

Something was ready to explode, though, and I could sense it too as I looked out over the audience. Some of their faces were aglow from cell phones, an anxious murmur filled the room and security augmented this feeling with a stern warning: “No beer bottles in the pit!”

Something chaotic was about to happen and in a few moments strange characters bumped their way to the stage wearing Goodwill glam rags and wigs. Robert Pickle (part of the sound man Mafia) turned up the sliders and from behind my back, on a table stood Five Foot Mullets ringmaster Matt Stevens in a wig, over coat and boots screaming the band’s entrance on a wireless microphone.

Stevens jumped down, stripped to his BVDs (with Duck Tape in strategic locations) and minced a fever of words and elbows from the pit at ground zero in front of the stage. His heavy dose of rapcore funk was backed from his band, but his individual performance elevates him to the top of my list as the area’s must-see entertainer.

Five Foot Mullet makes no concessions for their attitude and during their set they proclaim that there “ain’t no lower class than Tennessee Trash.” The band is from Johnson City and stands proud as some of the region’s loudest and most obnoxious rockers. Their songs are a blend of chunky, sweaty metal riffs, rap core lyric and divine comedy. With songs like “Moo Cow” and “Patty Cakes” it’s hard not to think about checking back in with them again when they show up next here the Tri-Cities.

A mosh pit is part aggression and part ritual. When the music is loud, fast and angry, it’s a natural sensation that rapcore and metal fans participate in. It’s dangerous and wild-eyed and there’s no doubt about it … you can get hurt.

As I watched the NFL playoffs last weekend and see NASCAR drivers readying their rides for the upcoming season of speed, I’m reminded that we sometimes find danger and speed entertaining. Although I’m too old now to participate in most contact sports, I still like to watch and if you like your music with a helmet don’t you dare miss the phenomenon called Five Foot Mullet the next time they ride into town.

Support live music in the Tri-Cities; check out these links…

This week’s buzz topics…

  • band feature on Rite of Passage
  • New mp3s from Carbon Blue and Five Unlucky City Kids

This week’s best bets for live music…

  • Friday: Tragically White at Coconuts on Stone Drive in Kingsport…
  • Saturday: Blind Sight at The Sophisticated Otter…


David Cate is director of new media for the GoTriCities Network. Send comments or tips for The Buzz to him at