Ep.290 – Next Big Nashville 2009 – Nashville, TN
Oct 18th, 2009
Category: 12th and Porter, And the Relatives, Cannery Ballroom, Eastmountainsouth, End, The, Eureka Gold, Exit/In, Jemina Pearl, Matt Friction and the Cheap Shots, Milktooth, Nashville, Next Big Nashville, Nico Vega, Sonos, Video Concert Reviews
Next Big Nashville 2009 was my crash course in Nashville music. The city is perfect for a music festival because it has a bunch of unique venues all in close proximity to each other. The NBN-provided shuttles were a great way to get around. No one had to worry about designating a driver, finding parking, missing a show, or shelling out cab money. I never had to wait long for a shuttle.
Over 140 bands, many of them from Nashville – I didn’t know where to start. Being semi-new to the city, and a mainstream radio listener (gasp), I only knew the bands I’ve seen before and the bands I read about in local blogs. Who has the time to search over 150 myspace pages?
Luckily, the festival website (NextBigNashville.net) had some features that helped me out. First of all, there was a player on the front page with a playlist of some of the participating bands. I hope next year more bands are added to that list. I listened to that at work and marked down which bands caught my ear.
The scheduling tool on the website was cool, and easy to use. You could mark down what you were heading to, leave comments in regards to the event (if you so desired), and see which registered users were going to attend as well. You could actually click on other registrants, and see their full schedules. The was an option to copy an embed code, so you could post your schedule on your blog or social networking profile.
Finally, you could view personalized recommendations by typing in your Last.fm, Hype Machine, or GrooveShark username, and the site automatically generated band picks based on your tastes.
There were so many great bands, it’s hard to choose favorites. It all depends on your listening habits. I adore Justin Kalk Orchestra’s jammy, funky, dance rock. They put on a great show on the Broadway strip. Matt Friction and the Cheap Shots and Nico Vega (although Nico Vega isn’t from Nashville) stood out for me. Friction has writing skills that have pop structure and familiarity, but with that punky garage band distortion sound that makes it “hip.” xoxo
I wanted to LOVE Jemina Pearl, but the live show wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. I think she’ll get better with time; she needs to work on changing her voice up. After seeing Nico Vega’s singer scream, rap, and then sing in a soothing bluesy style, I see how vocal versatility engages an audience for the entire set.
Pearl had a little freak out about her microphone not working on stage that disappointed me, but others seemed to like it. One guy said that the only reason he was staying was to see if shit would go down. So, it might have worked to her benefit after all.
For me, I like her bitchy presence, but I don’t want to see the actual attitude come out. I wish she saved it for backstage. On a positive note, she has some fun songs, and doesn’t phone it in on stage. She’s got spunk, and I’ll check her out again.
I wish I had seen Ten Out of Tenn’s showcase. I saw their conference panel, and I love their story. They are a group of solo singer/songwriters from Tennessee using the power in numbers method by touring together and playing for each other in concert. My exposure-hungry mind automatically thought – this group needs to go on “America’s Got Talent.” I mean, it would work for a Vegas show with the addition of some souped-up effects and video. Guy immediately said, “It is ‘NashVegas.’”
Milktooth was one of the first shows I saw, and I loved them! Their sound is rich – kind of “Coldplay,” but with bigger balls. The vocals are the driving force for me. In one of the NBN panels I went to, an A&R rep said that when he’s listening to bands, the first thing he looks for is a great voice. David Condos has that strong unique voice. I read a recent tweet that Milktooth has been added to NPR’s “All Songs Considered!” Check it out – and there’s a free download! CLICK HERE!
You know, then there’s The Clutters, Eureka Gold, Heypenny, and DJ Fan Fiction (among others) who are all out of this world, but completely different from eachother. The whole event was talent overload and although some acts were better than others, I didn’t leave a venue bummed out.
Typical conversations came up on the shuttles rides and in the smoking areas. Locals were happy that the festival has cut down on the number of bands playing this year. However, some were annoyed that national acts from other cities were taking the performance slots of local bands. Valid arguement, but obviously, this was done in an effort to gain recognition and get people out to the festival.
In my opinion, this needs to be done so the festival evolves. Nashville is rolling out some chart topping non-Country bands as of late, and the labels are noticing the potential and quality musicianship here in other formats. I was talking with one girl who suggested getting a nationally known (like BIG) Nashville act to headline the festival, to bring in that “muscle and the money.” Hopefully, it’s just a matter of time before those national slots are filled by bands orignated in Nashville. It would tie it all together.
I think the organizers of the event are taking the right steps with the festival. It’s affordable, and they did a great job marketing. Overall, the problem is creating the word-of-mouth buzz, educating people and getting them out. I wanted to see the venues packed, and that rarely happened. The free food and booze at the VIP parties is a good start. Those events seemed to bring a good turnout.
I didn’t understand why there were only a few people on the shuttles, and so many empty seats at the panels. Take advantage of your wristband or VIP badge. Don’t just stay at one venue for the whole night. As for the conference, these panelists are professionals in the industry. Why not show up and pick up on some tips and tools that might help you get ahead?
I want to see this festival grow, but I want to make sure it stays to its roots. This is a great training ground for 20-somethings looking to start a career in music and celebrate the Nashville music scene. This festival wasn’t stuffy or intimidating. There wasn’t too much of the whole “So, what do you do?” introduction thing. I believe the best business relationships come through friendship and are not forced. Networking is important, but it only works in a comfortable environment.