BEAST mode: Ode to The Basement East

Continuing our multi-set series of radio love letters to local venues, most of this morning’s 9 o’clock hour was filled with bands who have played the space on Woodland Street that endured a terrible one-two punch of devastating tornado damage and pandemic closure in 2020. The reopening of The Basement East this year made me emotional, for all that’s transpired since last March, and how elated we are to be back in that room seeing people we love play music we love.

Despite its youthfulness (it opened in 2015 as the rowdy, younger sibling of the storied 8th Avenue S venue The Basement), the six-year-old BEAST has hosted oodles of world-class musical acts, and even — as Jewly Hight recalled with fondness — some sporting events. Read on for YOUR favorite shows, and stream the full October 28, 2021 #ThematicStatic set (listen!👇🏼) stocked with artists who have graced the stage of this East Nashville venue.

#ThematicStatic Playlist

Caroline Rose – “Jeannie Becomes a Mom” – Requested by Nathan, who said Rose’s 2019 show was one of the best he’s ever seen, period! (Fun fact: Rose also opened for Maggie Rogers in September 2018, when The BEAST slotted in the Pilgrimage Festival performer after a wash-out in Franklin. Another Maggie who works for the venue says that show is memorable.) Here is the official video for this Caroline Rose track:

White Denim – “At Night In Dreams” – Matt enjoyed this 2019 show. So did Billy, who works there. (More Billy mems below.)

Tennis – “Marathon” – Nikolas saw this indie pop duo play in 2017, before they played a sold-out show this week at BEAST!

M. Ward – “Magic Trick” – Andy requested this artist, who folked up the space in 2019.

KRS-One – “Step Into a World” – Our own Evening Host and Production Coordinator Marquis Munson saw the hip-hop legend just recently. Billy also put this one on his top 5 Basement East shows witnessed while working. Watch the original music video:

The Hold Steady – “Chips Ahoy” – Whitney said on Insta, “Oh don’t make me say The Hold Steady again.” Ha, if the theme fits, we rock ’em!

Bermuda Triangle – “Suzanne” – Jewly Hight saw the one and only show this power trio made of up Brittany Howard, Becca Mancari and Jesse Lafser played in 2017, and it was at The Basement East. Jewly said more about her relationship with this venue, and its hosting of the occasional semi-pro wrestling match and drag show, in a voice memo (listen!👇🏼):

Lala Lala – “DIVER” – Caleb saw this Chicago-based artist in 2019, before WNXP launched and we started playing this, her new single, this year.

Khruangbin – “Maria También” – My words, not Will’s, but Khruangbin’s 2018 show at The Basement East was maybe the sexiest I’ve attended. The world music-influenced instrumental tunes, the subtle swaying and up-down choreographed moves of bass player Laura and guitarist Mark, the psych-hipster-hippie stench in the air. Ahhhhh. Will requested this one, technically.

Pinegrove – “Phase” – Jordan saw this band maybe in 2016 or more likely in 2019, after the band’s 2017 tour was cancelled. This song is on their record Marigold and here’s the video:

Parquet Courts – “Walking at a Downtown Pace” – Jeremi and another Instagram participant requested this band based off their 2018 show at The BEAST. We decided to spin their new one, since the record just came out this month!

Maggie Rogers – “Alaska” – See above about the fortuitous 2018 slotting-in of Ms. Rogers with the extreme weather cancellation of Pilgrimage.

Hiss Golden Messenger – “Sanctuary” – Yet another great rock show on Woodland Street in The Before Times (pre-tornado, pre-pandemic), I rounded out the hour with my own pick, Durham’s finest.

Also Enjoyed at The Basement (that’s not actually a basement) Out East

Yo La Tengo – Both Billy and Mike remember this show with fondness.

Jenny Lewis – Meghan saw her in 2018.

Whitney – Cale requested this Chicago band’s show from 2017.

Kris Kristofferson – Hardy caught the country legend in this relatively small space, also in 2018.

Pedro the Lion – Who’s cutting onions, Andy?

North Mississippi Allstars – Laura enjoyed this 2020 show, when a WNXP favorite, Memphis band Southern Avenue, opened!

Circles Around the Sun – One of my birthday shows in recent years, getting groovy though missing Mr. Neal Casal on lead guitar.

Kim Petras – Levia elevated this one.

Twin Peaks – Zach said this on Instagram:

“Twin Peaks in 2017 was nuts.
Pretty positive someone grabbed the ceiling scaffolding.”

Show-goer Zach

More My So-Called Band love, this time from Hannah and Lisa, proving that no matter where the local 90s covers experts book a show, it’s sure to be a banger.

Donna Missal – Brittany

More on Billy’s list!

  • Jacob Collier
  • Marc Rebillet
  • Danny Brown
  • Tony Hawk Pro Skater Soundtrack Tribute Show
  • King Tuff
  • Kyle Kinane
  • Andy Frasco & The U.N.
  • Illiterate Light
  • Liz Cooper & the Stampede
  • The Lemon Twigs
  • The Struts
  • John 5
  • Mudhoney

Jerry Garcia Birthday shows — Your resident WNXP Head is seconding this, and really every tribute show played at The Basement East, which seems a perfect home for friends, neighbors and collaborators to convene and pay homage to great acts, both living and gone. Others in this category I (sorta) remember are The Last Waltz annual event (coming up soon!), the “welcome back to concerts” feel of The Traveling Wilburys night led by Andrew Leahey this summer, and the year-specific revues put on during Americanafest each year.

Here are some future faves at The BEAST, after tonight’s great time with Shannon and the Clams. Enjoy!

  • Susto11/4
  • The Lemonheads11/8
  • Post Animal with Ron Gallo11/23
  • The Brook and the Bluff – Two SOLD OUT Shows 12/3 & 12/4
  • JD McPherson12/19 annual Christmas tour
  • Genesis Owusu1/29/22
  • The Weather Station2/4/22
  • Samia2/24/22