Here's something we never thought we'd say: It was a big year for shows in our little music-centric, second-tier concert market on the third coast. Paul McCartney, Arcade Fire and MGMT made their first-ever Music City stops in 2010. The Pixies packed out a two-night stand at the Ryman. Grinderman and Die Antwoord came to town within weeks of each other. While we still don't have an amphitheater in Davidson County — though a variety of different proposals, from rebuilding Starwood to erecting a smaller outdoor pavilion on the river, are under consideration by the varying powers that be — but after a year like this one, it's safe say Nashville's turned, or at least started to turn, the corner as an attractive concert market. Let's take a moment to relive some of the highlights from 2010 — a year that, even though the concert industry struggled globally, was the best year in concerts Nashville's had in recent memory. In no particular order:
Paul McCartney at Bridgestone Arena
If a reanimated Abraham Lincoln came to town to redeliver the Gettysburg Address (in its entirety) in the flesh, it wouldn't have trumped this show. And that's what seeing Paul McCartney pop his Music City cherry at Bridgestone Arena was like. The other shows on this list were good, but they didn't feature 23 Beatles songs sung by the man who wrote them, played to a tee. Baby, we were amazed.
Arcade Fire at The Ryman
After a six-year wait, definitive Aughts staples Arcade Fire finally made their Music City debut, and only a mere six days after the release of their epic third LP, The Suburbs. Granted it was at The Ryman, and only days after the band headlined New York's Madison Square Garden — the world's most famous arena — two nights in a row. But on the other hand, it was at The Ryman! And the famed building never shook so hard.
Grinderman at The Cannery Ballroom
If you saw this show then you know how good it was. But if you saw this show you can't possibly be reading this right now. Your eyes were melted out of your their sockets by Nick Cave's death-stare and your brain was decimated by the braying avalanche of sonic discordance that bearded, badass, Bad Seeds guitarist Warren Ellis brought on with his bouzouki. That is, if you even survived.
Next Big Nashville's Dead at Third Man Records
This aligning of the planets Next Big Nashville, Nashville's Dead and Third Man Records yielded a pair of shows that really showed Nashville as one of the most exciting, fervent cities in America for rock 'n' roll today. Record execs couldn't get in, and the jams got kicked out. Especially during JEFF the Brotherhood's epic explosion of garage-rock fury and youthful exuberance that showed what an utterly unstoppable band 200-plus dates a year on the road have made them. As Third Man impresario Jack White himself told the Scene of the band's galvanizing performance: "It was incredible." The same could be said for 2010 on the whole.
(For more of the year's top shows, go to Nashville Cream.)