Well, it's nearly 3AM and I can't sleep, so what better to do than write a quick recap of my Next Big Nashville experience.
This was my first year actually buying a wristband.. Last year, I did go to a couple of shows, but only ones that were friends, or happened to be located next to my apartment at the time (Waves on Waves, Plex Plex, etc). (At the Rutledge. Sidebar: if you are a photographer looking to shoot fish in a barrel and build up a music photography portfolio, go to the Rutledge. If you are a band that needs really amazing pictures, book a gig at the Rutledge. The lighting there is amazing -- it's like a movie set. It's impossible to take a bad picture there.)
This year I figured I'd bite the bullet and go all in. In short? Nashville has a lot of tremendously talented musicians. Unfortunately, most of these really talented musicians are in really crappy bands. But that's normal for any city, I suppose. I am a picky bastard, I admit. My eccentric taste forced me to play both sides of the house: I made fun of the Belmont-music-major bands to my hipster friends, and I made fun of the hipster bands to my Belmont-music-major friends. And I showed up at a few shows I really liked alone. Typical.
A few standouts:
- Caitlin Rose, who was the first show I saw at the End. Pretty tremendous voice, and solid songwriting. I liked her enough that I sent my friend Cary (who seriously needs to play NBN next year) a message saying "hey check out Caitlin Rose, she is awesome", to which Cary responded (paraphrased), "duh?" -- proving once again that I need to get out more. Cary doesn't even live here.
- The Carter Administration -- (pics here). I am admittedly biased because they are friends, but I still contend that they are the best rock band in Nashville.
- Tristen -- Ryan suggested I go check out her set at the mercy lounge after their show, because she blows his mind. She blew mine too -- really great stuff. She also had some of the same backing band that Caitlin Rose did, including their drummer, Ben ("the WARHAMMER"), who I ran into at the St. Vincent/Andrew Bird show on Saturday as well.
- Cortney Tidwell -- she was amazing, as I expected. However, I had a serious lapse in judgement and left her show towards the end to catch another artist (who shall remain nameless), which was a pretty serious error in judgement, as I turned right around and came back to the rock block stuff. Oh well, live and learn.
- Kindergarten Circus -- my friend Kelly said they were gonna go see "a bunch of 17 year olds", and given the crap I had just watched, that sounded pretty refreshing -- and it was. I had a dopey smile on my face through their whole set -- and not because they were young, just because they were really entertaining. I imagine it sucked to be the bands that followed their set. Nothin like gettin outclassed by a couple of high school students to make you reconsider your rock music career choice. Their recap here, and my pics here. (You can always tell when I like a band, because I bother to take pictures of them. I am so, so lazy.)
- Things I wish I had seen: Southern Girl's Rock'n'Roll Camp Showcase, which I heard was awesome. Shoot the Mountain. Future. Venus Hum.
So, it was pretty fun. Exhausting, but fun. I was tempted at times to have gotten the "VIP" badge, but I can't really imagine having gone to any afterparties and surviving the week/weekend. Probably the only advantage there is not having to wear a damn wristband for 4 days straight.
Lastly, this has nothing to do with NBN, but I saw St. Vincent and Andrew Bird on Saturday before hitting some of the NBN shows. It was really good. How could it not be? I am pretty sure that Andrew Bird gave nashville swine flu, though. And I forgot to ask St. Vincent to marry me, even when she was 2 feet away. Maybe next time.