Best in Shows 2012 

The Year in Music 2012

The Year in Music 2012

The Scene's live review column, The Spin, made it out to nearly 100 shows this year. Here are the highlights:

Jason and the Scorchers Say Goodbye to Perry Baggs at Exit/In

It took a sad occasion to reconvene Nashville's team Jason and the Scorchers at Exit/In: the death of beloved longtime drummer Perry Baggs after many years of poor health. But the Scorchers honored the never-say-die anchor of their fire-breathing '80s rhythm section with a show that was more celebratory than solemn. And was that Nashville radio sportscaster Steve Gorman sitting in on drums? —Jim Ridley

Roger Waters at Bridgestone Arena

You didn't need LSD to think you were hallucinating at this massive gig. Helicopters? A flying pig? A 68-year-old prog-rock star shooting a machine gun at an audience of 20,000 screaming fans? A shape-shifting stage that extended into both the lower bowl and the arena rafters? Roger Waters' jaw-dropping production of The Wall was worth every penny of the top-dollar ticket price. —Adam Gold

Jack White at Third Man Records

On paper this surreptitious rock show was a private party celebrating Third Man Records' third anniversary. Lucky attendees — about 150 of Jack White's friends, family and fans — got a pinch-self, sweaty, intimate and thoroughly rocking preview of the White Stripe-gone-solo's catalog-encompassing, gender-bending live show. Only in Nashville. —Adam Gold

Gilberto Gil at the Schermerhorn

For shame! Even more astonishing than the fact that one of world music's all-time biggest heavyweights, Gilberto Gil, did a gig in Nashville is that fact that a crowd barely big enough to merely fill the floor of the Schermerhorn came out to see it. Luckily, those who did attend made up for their neighbors' absence, dancing through the aisles and clapping along in polyrhythmic meter as Brazil's former minister of culture (literally!) deftly amalgamated transcendent sounds and pulses cherry-picked from across the globe. —Adam Gold

JEFF the Brotherhood Headlines The Freakin' Weekend

Although JEFF the Brotherhood has long ruled Nashville's ever-burgeoning punk scene, the duo had a milestone moment back in March when they sold out Exit/In as headliners of Nashville's Dead's annual Freakin' Weekend Festival — always one of local rock's best extended parties of the year. As for the J-Bros' performance, the band boasted its own light show and a canon-spanning set list that crowd-surfing fans shouted along to like it was a victory lap of greatest hits at Bridgestone Arena. Maybe someday it will be. —Adam Gold

Bombino at VFW Post 1970

This singer and guitarist from the nomadic Tuareg people of central-Saharan Africa completely hypnotized one of the more diverse crowds you're likely to see in Nashville, building from a laid-back but grooving acoustic set to balls-out electric mayhem. Bombino channeled rock gods like Hendrix and Page while his backing band incorporated the undulating polyrhythms of their homeland. Kudos to promoter Chris Davis for turning a Tuesday night at a VFW hall into one of the most joyous dance parties of the year. —Jack Silverman

Archers of Loaf at Mercy Lounge

Rough-and-tumble rockers Archers of Loaf were the pride of the South during indie rock's Clinton era glory days, but in August bassist Matt Gentling told the Scene the band never drew flies in Nashville. Luckily, an almost-packed house (and sure, a couple gray hairs) was the only noticeable change to the reunited band's savage live assault. —Adam Gold

King Tuff at VFW Post 1970

Originally slated to be the opening show at new rock 'n' roll hotspot The Stone Fox, this summertime appearance from riff-ready garage-psych powerhouse King Tuff was moved last minute to VFW Post 1970. But the show — which featured support from local rock 'n' roll road dogs Natural Child and laugh-a-minute, caterwauling freak-folk duo Birdcloud — didn't suffer, with furious performances from all three acts eliciting more hooting, howling and crowd-surfing than the venue's old smoke-stained walls had likely ever seen. —D. Patrick Rodgers

Big Freedia at Exit/In

Flagship New Orleans sissy-bounce heavyweight Big Freedia was born a man, made into a woman and possessed by the spirit of James Brown. In August she barnstormed Exit/In and bowled over an already enthused crowd with a performance that was as much a frenzied, high-intensity cardio calisthenics class as it was an outsider hip-hop concert. —Adam Gold

Nashville's Dead at Zombie Shop

Mega-popular underground haunt The Zombie Shop couldn't have asked for a more fitting send-off — or camel's-back-breaking straw, perhaps — for their old location than local punk blog Nashville's Dead's third anniversary party. With performances from incendiary West Coast masters of psychedelia The Ty Segall Band and Thee Oh Sees alongside Tennessean garage punks Gnarwhal, Useless Eaters, Ex-Cult and the debut-LP-unveiling D. Watusi, the celebratory bash raged on into the wee hours and saw The Zombie Shop's largest turnout to date. —D. Patrick Rodgers

Kendrick Lamar at War Memorial Auditorium

Rising star and West Coast rapper Kendrick Lamar is quickly cultivating a reputation as the most electrifying entertainer in hip-hop. Last month, with little more than a DJ and a mic in hand, the emcee captured a modest-sized crowd with a performer's stranglehold in what many regarded as the "you should have been there" show of the year. —Adam Gold


Related Stories:

Most Interesting Music Stories of 2012
Blues and Jazz 2012
Classical 2012
Hip-hop haps 2012
Favorite Albums of the Year 2012

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