Next Big Nashville Wrap Up

Three nights, eight shows, eighteen bands, countless beers and fourteen hours of sleep. That was my Next Big Nashville experience in a nutshell. After a Sunday afternoon that I had planned on spending finishing unpacking and listening to the Seahawks game, but ended up mostly napping, I've almost recovered from it. It was an exhausting 72 hours, but totally worth it. With over 130 bands playing at ten different venues over five nights, I missed more great bands than I was able to see. This festival did a great job of highlighting the vast wealth of talent that exists in Nashville's non-country music scene.

Here are some quick reviews of most of the acts I got to see over the past couple of days, in roughly the order I saw them...

Cortney Tidwell - I've raved about her a lot on here over the past year, so it should come as no surprise that her show Thursday at the Basement was amazing. I'm glad to see that the commenters at Nashville Cream who saw her felt the same way. She played several new songs, and they were every bit as incredible as the stuff on her debut album.

Justin Townes Earle - He may have Steve Earle in his blood, but Hank Williams in his heart. His set of "old time hillbilly music" wasn't anything groundbreaking, but it was thoroughly enjoyable.

Matthew Ryan Vs. The Silver State - I expected a good show, and he certainly delivered. I'd kill to have his voice, and his songwriting is so fucking good, it's criminal that the guy isn't a household name. Not only did he cover one of my favorite songs ever (more on that tomorrow), but I think this might be my new favorite song...

Matthew Ryan - "It Could've Been Worse" (mp3 - now with a working link)

Jennifer Nicely - The Basement's low ceilings and laid back vibe was the perfect setting for Nicely's brand of jazzy pop noir. It sounded like a young Billie Holliday fronting Chris Isaak's Silvertones. Her debut album, Luminous, is being released tomorrow.

The Pink Spiders - Considering how hard it's been to miss The Pink Spiders lately, especially in Nashville, it's surprising that this was the first time I've seen them. These guys have been everywhere over the past year... on the soundtrack to Madden 07, on TRL, and they seem to be at the Gold Rush every single time I step foot in the joint. I even saw their video for "Little Razorblade" while shopping at Steve & Barry's in Pennsylvania earlier this year. Their beer spewing stage antics really aren't my cup of tea, but if you can resist the charms of "Modern Swinger," you're made of stronger stuff than I am.

Aaron Robinson - Aaron Robinson has an amazing voice, his songs are great, and his band is fantastic. And yet the thing I remember most about his set at the Mercy Lounge was how much I hated his song about Karen Carpenter.

And The Relatives - I'd never heard of these guys before last week, but their set Saturday night at The End was outstanding. If The Pixies had spent their entire career in a garage, they'd sound something like this.

All We Seabees - I think I have a new favorite local band. Their set started with just hand claps and harmonies, and over the course of half an hour they built their folky pop songs into raging swirl of distorted guitars... and harmonies. It was one of those shows where you kick yourself afterwords for not finding out about them sooner.

Jensen Sportag - I hate to go negative, but this show was memorable in how monumentally boring it was. I've never seen any band that didn't get at least a courtesy clap between songs... the only thing you heard was people carrying on their conversations throughout the set. Apparently they are about to move to London, and hopefully their electro-pop will go over a little better across the pond.

Plastic Clap - Entirely awesome. It was like some unholy mix of The Beastie Boys and NSYNC. If you ever get the chance to see these guys, you HAVE to go. Their show is brilliantly offensive and absolutely insane.

For more post festival thoughts, visit Out The Other and, uh... thats it for now. If anyone has seen any other post-festival posts, please post a comment and let me know. I'm sure the Scene will have a wrap up on Wednesday.

UPDATE: More post NBN thoughts at Nashville Cream.

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I agree with you about Matthew Ryan - very underrated.
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