Tri State Indie attends some of the hottest, up and coming festivals in the country.  This Fall we had people down in Nashville, TN for Soundland, formally known as Next Big Nashville.  The festival is in its second year partnering with Leadership Music Digital Summit, but Next Big Nashville is picking up its fifth year and making a splash in a city with a growing alternative music scene.  The festival expanded from The War Memorial on the first night to 8 different venues the rest of the weekend.  To gather an idea of the festival’s size, check out for the full map.

The 12th Avenue Block Party was the central spot for the festival.  Along with the large stage outside that Foster the People played on, there were also two venues with music happening inside at 12th & Porter and Mai.  In 12th, there are two stages where bands can play at the same time.  If you want a change of scenery, you are able to hit up Cannery Row where the Cannery Ballroom and Mercy Lounge are located.  The two venues that stand alone, but not far from all the excitement are, The Basement and The Station Inn.  The Neuhoff Factory Party was a festival on its own.

From boozing and schmoozing, to enjoying or ignoring the music, the live performances and artists that filled this festival were as fresh and entertaining as Nashville’s new alternative influence.  Here are just a few highlights from a festival that has captured the “hearts and minds” of Nashvillians quicker than anyone could have expected.  Enjoy and be prepared for bigger and better things to come next year.

10. Chancellor Warhol took the 12th Avenue Block Party stage by storm, kicking off the Hip-hop filled night with live drums, a hype-woman movin’ the crowd, and smooth hooks from Boss of Nova’s Aaron.  Wearing a Washington hat, Chancellor was quick to note it was for Warhol and not the Nationals


9. I walked in on a duet by Jeremy and Isaaca Byrd of The Bridgesthat took my breath away.  The emotion and power of the piece set this band apart from other Americana bands I have seen.   The attitude of The Pixies comes through the Fleetwood Mac arrangements.  When the stage filled back up after the duet, the three sisters and drummer helped turn the room into a jumpin’ good time with well crafted harmonies and catchy tunes.


8.  M. Ward takes over the War Memorial Stage with the backing of Dawes to kick off the Soundland weekend.  After some introduction songs with his acoustic guitar, Ward brought on stage Kurt Wagner of Lambchop.  I could not tell you the song they sang because I was too focused on Lampchop’s delicate voice with a touch of rasp to completely capture the audience.


7.  The Cannery Ballroom became an electric forest that started off with Cherub’s(Band) two guitar players singing in unison with some kind of harmony; playing their drum machine, seemingly fucking around, as the show moved along.  Two Dudes, One Machine and a punk kid getting dragged out of Cannery Ballroom, flailing around while being pinned down capped an unforgettable set by Nashville’s native electronic group.  Ghostland Observatory’s(band) Thomas Turner took the stage singing through a headphone wearing a blue and white cape mixing what sounded like a 2-inch tape mix.  They shot beams of blue and yellow for the crowd to enjoy as they danced and hollered for more.  Bonobo(band) finished the night by keeping the party going till 3:00am with a DJ set filled with grooves to dance too.

6. Uncle Skeleton is 12 piece band fully equipped with 3 violins, a cello, trombone, trumpet, 2 guitars, bass, drums, DJ, and vocalist so there was nothing this band could not play.  And they played it all.  I heard the Talking Heads, Prince and James Brown all mixed into one super band.  The arrangements went from funk to soul to rock and all the way back around again.  The second guitar player was playing a riff from the top of the neck to the bottom for an entire song.  And when I say riff I mean from start of measure to end and immediately back up again.  The musicianship was pristine.  The sound was bright.  The band was tight.  Nothing was wrong.

5. After a long Thursday of music, the fun never seemed to slow down as I enjoyed a beer at Jackalope brewing company, while scarfing down Rooster’s BBQ that melted in my mouth.  As I had a smooth lager from Jackalope I began talking with Natalie Byrd from The Bridges and Derek Bahr of Cole Degenova.  We passed the time drinking and playing a game called break the ice.  Board games have made there a storming return with the advent of drinking games, so why not drink and play!


4. At the conference portion of Soundland, I got to hear Kent Marcus (Marcus and Colvin), Stephen Robertson (Atlantic), Robert Ellis Orrall(Infinity Cat), Mark Williams(Columbia),  Mike Flynn (Epic) and Jay Frank (Author of Futurehit.dna) speak on the state of A&R and various other music business topics in The Belcourt Theatre’s stage.  Words of Wisdom from the panel were, “Do What You Do and Take Control Of It”.  Traveling to the Gibson Guitar Showroom there was a panel of Joe Kirk (Noisetrade Board of Directors), Edward O’Day (Project Daybreak/manager for The Apache Relay), and Paul Brown (Red Hat 22/manager for Katie Herzig) discussing Noisetrade.  Paul Brown related getting a persons email address to a key to somebody’s door.  It is imperative to foster a relationship but not to overstay your welcome.  So please have moderation people, it is more effective in the end.  Then a panel on Band Page with J. Sider (CEO Bandpage) emphasized educating fans and using custom options to target your audience better.

3.  Tristen was a band whose raw power and attitude impressed me the most.  She belted tunes with the thoughts of Jenny Lewis and The Pretenders rushing through my head.  She also broke out a ukulele to play with a full band backing her.  It was bad-ass.  The small and tattered front-women led her band’s force and touched the crowd with a slew of catchy melodies.  Check out her album on American Myth Records for a good time.


2. Playing through an amp-head that read “Coors” with an American flag as the background, Hans Condor finished his beer, threw it to the crowd, and hit is guitar to start the set.  Insanity took over as his powerful stage presence had him flailing around stage.  My first thought was “Rock and Fuckin’ Roll.”  He jumped into the crowd, despite the high stage of Third Man Records, to hit us with heavy guitar riffs – literally and figuratively.  I liked the show so much I made my way to The End on Saturday Night to catch him play a set there.  Nothing is better than jumping from six feet high and spinning around while shredding the guitar. Hans Condor everybody. (APPLAUSE)


1. I was directed to The Basement for a performance by The Ettes.  My Fucking God.  I slander Nashville for a lack luster Punk scene (although who am I kidding, punk is no where now-a-days) but The Ettes showed me what I have been looking for all along.  Girls rock, just ask CoCo, lead singer/guitarist, and Poni, drummer, and you will realize the male-dominated world of music is changing.  I ran to the front of the stage and heard CoCo say “slap the cooch nearest you”.  I knew I had found my home.  CoCo’s chipmunk like voice egged on the crowd and kept us entertained with her quirky personality.  Nashville based, this three piece with bass player Jem, rocked endlessly and responded to the crowds want for more rock.  Hans Condor made an appearance on stage to take the guitar from CoCo and create a super group that took it to the limit and, after toeing the line, jumped off.  I can say with confidence my heart now belongs to CoCo and I do not see any other woman wooing me like she did this night.  I am counting down the days until I catch a glimpse of The Ettes again and you should too.


***Caught a glimpse of Fine Peduncle take off his clothes and dance with the audience, slipping off his belt and singing passionately about some form of pleasure.

***Station Inn had some great singer-song writers I was not able to check out but you should.  Names included Rich Robinson (Black Crows), Ben Sollee, Natalie Prass, Lydia Loveless, and Carl Broemel.

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