On the heels of the release of their highly-anticipated and unsurprisingly stellar sophomore LP, Losing, breakout local grunge pop group Bully are gearing up to celebrate with not one, not two, but three nights of homecoming shows at Mercy Lounge, Dec. 14 with Adia Victoria and Western Medication, Dec. 15 with Daddy Issues and Butthole, and Dec. 16 with Pujol and Sad Baxter. Though they’ve remained active, appearing at Live on the Green and a plethora of major regional fests over the last year, these shows will be Bully’s first formal, hometown headlining dates in nearly two years (22 months to be exact), making them, perhaps, December’s most essential happening. Tickets are still available for Thursday (here), and Saturday (here), but Friday is sold out and we don’t expect the others to be far behind, so snag yours for one or more nights, to help kickstart a new chapter for one of the city’s best bands, and read on for more below!
BULLY :: Dec. 14, 15, & 16
Throughout their earliest shows in 2013, buzzyworthy DIY releases and local domination in 2014, and subsequent signing, major label full-length debut, and well-earned international acclaim in 2015, watching local grunge pop group Bully rightfully ascend to become one of rock’s most important new acts has been an immensely gratifying journey. Led by singer/songwriter/producer Alicia Bognanno, an MTSU grad and former intern of beloved producer Steve Albini, Bully, despite buzzworthy pedigree, have always been, and largely remain, a fiercely organic, self-sufficient unit. Since their earlier 7″ and tape efforts, self-released self-titled EP, and 2015 full-length debut, Feels Like, which landed on more year end lists than we can count, the band have always managed to find a balance between ’90s alt-rock and grunge nostalgia, pop sensibilities, punk attitude, and modern indie flair, cemented by Bognanno’s unparalleled ear for production and biting musical sensibilities.
Rounded out by guitarist Clayton Parker and bassist Reece Lazarus, Bully are at home performing with legacy and contemporary indie and punk acts, and have quickly become festival favorites, catching attention beyond just media praise, and having their music featured in outlets like television commercials, video games, and late night TV. The group made the jump to esteemed indie label Sub Pop earlier this year, with whom they released their highly-anticipated sophomore effort, Losing, in October. Documenting the complexity of personal growth in an anxious and raw fashion, Bully’s latest is Bognanno’s most confessional and personal work to date, and feels like a more confident and cohesive take on the first record’s template. Road worn from several years of tours, Bully remain a bombastic and powerful live force as well, and their homecoming might very well be the most important musical happening of all of December.
ADIA VICTORIA :: Dec. 14
Raised in South Carolina but Nashville based since 2010, eclectic singer Adia Victoria has captivated us with her unique, poetic, southern gothic blues sound, culminating in breathtaking debut full-length, Beyond the Bloodhounds, one of last year’s best records. Though that LP might have been an introduction for many at the national level, we’ve been obsessing over Victoria’s powerful voice and poetic style for a number of years, and she’s long been an integral and beloved part of the local music scene. Though not conventionally punk in sound like Bully, Adia certainly conjures a similarly powerful and unique spirit, and helps makes this the most eclectic night of the whole residence.
WESTERN MEDICATION :: Dec. 14
Conjuring an unabashedly retro post-punk sound, dropping with indie pop flourish, tinges of psych pop, and some punk bite, locals Western Medication spent years honing their phenomenal sound and paying their dues as a persistent figure in the DIY scene, before releasing their debut full-length, The Entertainers’ Secret, last year. Distinctly different from but complementary to the rest of the lineup, whether these longtime local staples have become a well-deserved favorite or whether they’ve somehow slipped by you, we hope you’ll make a point to show up early.
DADDY ISSUES :: Dec. 15
Locals Daddy Issues actually got their start as a parody of Twitter account before taking up instruments and deciding to make a go at becoming a proper band. Strong early buzz gave way to the gals’ 2015 debut, Can We Still Hang, with a self-described sound that “lies somewhere between witchy grunge and surf glam,” and the trio’s lyrical prowess, a mix of empowerment and lighthearted, sarcastic self-awareness, provided a surprisingly poignant juxtaposition to their raw instrumentation, helping the group quickly find themselves on the road, on festival bills, and the subject of national press. Their recent sophomore effort, Deep Dream, landed more confident, cohesive, and nuanced, cementing Daddy Issues’ spot as one of Nashville’s most essential new acts.
BUTTHOLE :: Dec. 15
A late addition to kick off Friday’s sold out (and now even more stacked) lineup, Butthole, the self-proclaimed “Taylor Swifts of Fudge Rock,” have become an integral fixture in the local DIY scene over the past couple of years, catching attention, of course, for their name (like peers Diarrhea Planet) and deserving it even moreso for their music (also like DP). The group released their self-titled debut LP last year, combining punk ethos with indie, lo-fi, and even surf-tinged influences, and their live show is a blast- don’t be late!
PUJOL :: Dec. 16
If you’re a regular reader of the site, then you surely already know Pujol, the local punk project fronted by namesake Daniel Pujol. Expansive, artistic, and smart, Pujol are the thinking man’s punk band, packing energy and genre-bending sensibilities into releases that find a surprising amount of substance and depth, catching the attention of the likes of Saddle Creek and Third Man. The group dropped their latest EP, KISSES, in late 2015, and have since taken a turn for the even more experimental, crafting a series of more recent spoken-word efforts which Daniel has performed in concert over the past year.
SAD BAXTER :: Dec. 16
A well-matched local act to open the final night on a high note, duo Sad Baxter, who we’ve been obsessing over for years now, harbor a clear affinity for many of the same grunge and ’90s alt rock influences as Bully, landing on calmer, heavier sound, while employing similar riff-driven, pop accessibility, and personal and earnest themes. The band’s typically sad, sarcastic songs are delightfully juxtaposed with singalong worthy hooks, and their live show is honed from years of countless performances. We hope you’ve taken the time to catch them by now, but if not, they’re going to be an amazing complement to the lineup- show up early!
Bully will perform at Mercy Lounge Thursday, Dec. 14 with Adia Victoria and Western Medication, Friday, Dec. 15 with Daddy Issues and Butthole, and Saturday, Dec. 16 with Pujol and Sad Baxter. The shows are 18+, begin at 9 p.m. (doors at 8 p.m.), and tickets are available to purchase for $15 here (12/14), and here (12/16), and sold out for Dec. 15.