No Country’s Best Nashville Shows of 2012

We’ve already given you our favorite “National” Records and favorite “Nashville” Records from 2012. It’s time for our primary staff writers to give you their picks for the pee-their-pants-with-happiness live music highlights from the past year (Bonnaroo sets not included). We see lots and lots of music, but we can’t see it all. Leave us a comment, and let us know what show we missed, or if you just want to give a virtual high-five that we were at the same show.

Andrew’s Top Shows of 2012

1. David Bazan plays Pedro the Lion’s Control @ Exit/In – 11/24 – Bazan put on an amazing performance, played all of Control, interspersed the set with his solo material (that is of equal if not higher caliber), and made fun of Jar Jar Binks during the question/comment section of the concert.
2. Rubblebucket, Reptar, and Cherub @ War Memorial Auditorium – 9/28 – Even though Rubblebucket’s performance was full of on-stage dancers and crazy antics, the music perfectly complemented to create the most lively performance I’ve seen in Nashville in a good while.
3. Metric w/ Half Moon Run @ The Ryman – 9/14 – Metric had the grace to delve into their older material and highlight key songs from Synthetica and Fantasies, but Half Moon Run was the real surprise performance, captivating the audience with their intense harmonies and auxiliary percussion.
4. The Features, Heypenny, Tristen @ Cannery Ballroom – 10/31 – Seeing the Features, the anthemic band of college youth, was a reminder of who I used to be on a day when I’m pretending to be something else.
5. The Protomen play Queen,The Non Commissioned Officers, The Remones (w/ special guest Tenacious D) @ Exit In – 6/22 – The Protomen did more than pay tribute to Queen: they perfectly captured the live energy of Queen and brought it to Exit/In, and they featured a special cameo appearance from Jack Black and other members of Tenacious D, who joined them on stage during “Bohemian Rhapsody” to sing backup.
6. Alanna Royale @ The Basement – 10/12 – Saying Alanna’s voice is powerful is an understatement, since it could probably quell a peasant uprising with its mere ferocity.
7. The Bridges, Wild Cub, Heypenny, KDSML @ East Nashville Underground (Friday Night Session) – 11/16 – The Bridges’ Fleetwood Mac-ish harmonies, Wild Cub’s danceable pop tunes, Heypenny’s musical busyness, and KDSML’s hip-hop arrangements created a diverse soundtrack for a great Friday night, which is why I needed all of Saturday to recover.
8. Black Parlor 13 Tattoo Party with Street Corner Symphony, Birdcloud, Five Knives, and Hillbilly Casino @ Mercy Lounge – 8/4 – This show was so good, I’m surprised I didn’t get a Street Corner Symphony tattoo afterwards.
9. Beach House w/ Dustin Wong @ Marathon Music Works – 9/15 – Beach House was extra-dreamy and super-tranced, which makes sense, since I saw multiple people sitting down to digest the sounds.
10. The Black Angels @ Exit/In – 8/10 – This show was psychedelic in the best way possible: you don’t need any drugs to feel the craze and I couldn’t get the dream scene from The Big Lebowski out of my head.

Jessika’s Top Shows of 2012

1. Fiona Apple @ The Ryman – 7/13 – She was at once unbelievably punk rock (she beat herself with a baton during her first song) and undeniably full of grace; I remain transfixed.
2. Jessica Lea Mayfield + David Mayfield @ 3rd and Lindsley – 12/9 – They have a great old-school-Opry/Carter family vibe in their onstage banter together and they played their secret song about Myspace!
3. The Avett Brothers w/ Randy Travis @ The Factory (CMT Crossroads) – 10/24 – This was perhaps the most surreal experience of my life… that’s all I’m gonna’ say about that.
4. Regina Spektor @ The Ryman – 11/11 – Simply stunning in every way.
5. He’s My Brother She’s My Sister @ The High Watt – 11/3 – Super friendly band that are just as much fun to hang with backstage as they are to see on stage.
6. Hurray For The Riff Raff @ 615 Design – 11/7 – It was awesome to get to know this band in an intimate setting like Erica’s studio during our listening room party, plus it was great to meet Sara Jean Kelley who would become a friend to us at No Country.
7. Ponychase @ Mercy Lounge – 11/8 – Finally, an EP to own so I can stop obsessively watching Youtube clips like a creeper.
8. & 9. & 10. Alanna Royale @ East Nashville Underground – 11/17 – BIG. TIME. CRUSH.

Matt’s Top Shows of 2012

1. Jack White w/ Alabama Shakes @ The Ryman – 5/16 – I was so excited for this show that I showed up on Tuesday night with my Wednesday night tickets.
2. Poliça @ The Basement – 3/19 – I literally ran out of the Ryman after the Andrew Bird show to see these sweethearts of SXSW blow away a packed house at The Basement.
3. Beach House @ Marathon Music Works – 9/15 – One of those shows that pierced the soul when the soul needed some piercing…Timing can be everything.
4. All of East Nashville Underground (Summer 2012 and Fall 2012 sessions) – If you haven’t been to one of these, you are missing out on a fantastic time.
5. The Kills @ Third Man Records – 10/10 – Serendipitously lucked into tickets while looking for information about The Shins show
6. Neon Indian w/ Purity Ring @ Mercy Lounge – 3/10 – This probably would have been even higher on the list if I had gotten there early enough to see Purity Ring.
7. Dirty Projectors @ Cannery Ballroom – 8/13 – I’ve never been impressed with their records, but ended up dropping $20 to see them when I thought I was going to a free 8 off 8th because they sounded so good from the front door.
8. Craig Finn @ High Watt – 3/6 – New venues only open once in a while (well, unless you live in Nashville), but they don’t often open with the front man of The Hold Steady.
9. The Walkmen @ Mercy Lounge – 9/27 – Fantastic sound from a band that always sounds fantastic.
10. Alanna Royale @ The Basement – 10/12 – Nice to meet you, Ms. Royale. I hope to get to know you a lot better in the future.

Honorable Mentions:
No Country’s SXSW Preview Show
@ The Basement – 3/11 – Hey, it was our first go around, and it was a blast.
The Anal Beatles @ The Basement & Denney & The Jets @ Ovvio Arte – 1/5 – One of the weirdest nights for a recent Nashville transplant included The Anal Beatles destroying The Basement followed by a house party that I probably shouldn’t have been invited to at Ovvio Arte.

Philip’s Top Shows of 2012

1. David Bazan @ Exit/In- 11/24 – I never got to see Bazan in his Pedro the Lion days. Though I’ve seen his solo shows since, experiencing ‘Control’ performed in full really fulfilled a huge and important gap from one of the most influential artists in my life.
2. Grimes @ Mercy Lounge- 10/3 – I’m pretty obsessed with Grimes and but I was skeptical if her show could live up to her hype. And it did. It really, really did.
3. Bad Books @ Mercy Lounge- 10/18 – This band is a hybrid of Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra, two of my favorites, so of course I love them. Mercy Lounge is the most intimate place I’ve seen them, such a treat!
4. Foxy Shazam @ 12th & Porter- 5/22 – Old buddies of mine so I’m super biased, but if you’ve never seen them live you’re missing out on one of the most top-notch, engaging rock and roll bands of our era.
5. Japandroids @ Exit/In- 11/21 – I’m kind of glad it took me this long to finally see these guys live, because they really seem to be in their performance prime.
6. Wanda Jackson @ Franklin Theatre- 7/28 – Such a legend. Such a musical gem. Her influence is unparalleled and under-appreciated and man does she still have the live chops.
7. Dinosaur Jr. @ Mercy Lounge- 10/1 – Apparently they were having an off night, but they still destroyed. Seeing such a legendary band is a small room was kind of mind-blowing!
8. Say Anything w/ Murder by Death @ Exit/In- 10/23 – Say Anything connected with me at a really important part of my musical development and I’ll always hold a special place for them. Doesn’t hurt that they also happen to be badass performers!
9. Minus the Bear / Cursive @ Cannery Ballroom- 10/25 – What an awesome bill. I only caught half of Cursive, but Minus the Bear was by far the best I’ve ever seen them.
10. The Faint @ Cannery Ballroom- 11/30 – I was kind of bummed that more people weren’t excited about the band performing ‘Danse Macabre.’ Seriously epic show!

Honorable Mentions:
fun. @ The Jefferson Theater (Charlottesville, VA)- 5/5 – The last show I caught back home before moving to Nashville. fun. booked a small club tour before blowing up, then stuck to it- I saw them about a year apart in the same room and they went from playing for about 30 people to a sold out show.
Lights @ The Canal Club (Richmond, VA)- 3/3 – Another one I caught before moving, Lights has gone from nerdy, niche synth rock to an electronic music powerhouse and a live performance force to be reckoned with.


  1. I was lucky enough to attend several from these lists including Metric, Fiona, Craig Finn, and He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister, but Dirty Projectors was by far my favorite from this list. That show was incredible. I would also like to include the following shows:

    -The Kopecky Family Band at The Mercy Lounge
    -Other Lives at 3rd & Lindsley
    -Portugal. The Man at The Cannery Ballroom
    -M83 with I Break Horses at Marathon Music Works
    -St. Vincent with Shearwater at The Cannery Ballroom
    -Murder by Death with Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons and Ha Ha Tonka at the Mercy Lounge (Truly amazing bill)
    -Grouplove at The Cannery Ballroom
    -The Silent Comedy at 12th & Porter (Twice!)
    -The Lonely Wild opening for Hospitality and The Love Language at The High Watt (I list The Lonely Wild first because they completely stole the show. They will be the breakout band of 2013)

    • Great additions, Dillon. If I could had included Bonnaroo sets, St. Vincent would be in there for sure. I sadly passed off my M83 tickets for the before mentioned ticket snafu for Jack White. Thanks for following!

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