Sunsphere kinda rules.
Last night I had the chance to hang out with a friend I hadn't seen in about a year or so. He's gotten all gypsy-like, lived all over the country and spent some time in Honduras and Costa Rica. When I showed up at the house where he was staying he put on an awesome record, so I asked what it was, thinking maybe it was something he picked up while traveling. Turns out it was a compilation of Knoxville bands called Music to Steal To. I had no idea that there were twelve good bands in Knoxville. This ignorance is rooted equally by my own experiences playing there and my biased and generalized opinion of the town based on an unhealthy intra-state rivalry that I've concocted in my head.
It turns out that not only does Knoxville have some good bands, but, as of late, they might be kicking our asses in the show-getting department as well. While we had Lou Reed at the Ryman last year, Knoxville snagged Lou Reed and Melt-Banana--in the same show. And here's another feather in their cap: the horribly named Big Ears Festival, happening in February and including Antony and the Johnsons, Michael Gira (from the Swans), The Necks, Negativland, Matmos, Sparklehorse and Philip friggin' Glass.
But as good as that is, I think I'm most excited about Christian Fennesz, who will be performing his collaboration with members of Sparklehorse for the first time in US during the festival. He's playing a solo set as well, which will presumably include tracks from the recently release Black Sea--a record that's a strong album-of-the-year contender on my year-end nerd list. (It's got Nick Cave to beat out).