Exit/In For The Win

Tonight, Merge Records artist Torres — whose newest LP Thirstier was our #RecordoftheWeek (and the subject of a simultaneous NPR Music feature) not too long ago — graces one of the most storied stages in Music City, a room that live music fans (and longtime residents clutching to wisps of Old Nashville) hope remains a fixture on The Rock Block that is Elliston Place. Of course, I’m referring to The Exit/In, which has a long history of hosting acts both local and national, on-the-rise and already-risen. But I’ll let the venue do the storytelling!

When asked about the best shows YOU have seen in that club whose black walls are famously covered with signatures of those who’ve performed there, WNXP listeners delivered, submitting memories spanning its early years in the 1970s all the way to just before lockdown. Listen 👇🏼 to the October 13, 2021 #ThematicStatic, our sonic love letter to Exit/In, and marvel at the list of others we didn’t air but that surely made for some super times in an important room in this town.

#ThematicStatic Playlist

The Budos Band“Gun Metal Grey” – this 2014 show from the Daptone Records instrumental funk-rock darlings featured locals Kansas Bible Company opening, with horns-o-plenty the whole night, and a sweaty, dance-y good time had by all.

Bon Iver – “Flume” – Andy said he caught the now-yuge singer-songwriter on Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver)’s 2008 tour through Nashville, wow.

Luscious Jackson – “Naked Eye” – ’90s alternative rock was very present tense when Nickolas caught this band at Exit/In in 1994. A relative unknown Ben Harper, touring his first record, opened. Sick! Here’s the official video LJ released for their biggest hit (watch👇🏼):

Digable Planets – “Where I’m From” – I didn’t know Digable Planets reunited to tour in 2016 and I sure as hell didn’t know they played a sold-out show at Exit/In. Where was I?! The important thing is we are here, now, together. But kudos to Amira for seeing some of her hip-hop heroes in a special spot five years ago.

Angel Olsen – “What It Is” – you better listen to the archive for the reason Emily Young picked this memorable 2016 show, among her probable hundreds as a Nashville native, for today’s Thematic Static. Diarrhea Planet gigs were big fun, too, she said.

The Weakerthans – “Plea from a Cat Named Virtue” – I still haven’t forgiven the friend who shall not be named (CHAD) for standing me up on our planned reunion in Nashville for a performance by our favorite Canadians in 2008. Car trouble in Kentucky, yada yada yada. Anyway, I still came up from South Carolina and crashed on a friend’s couch after seeing John K. Samson and crew serenade us with turn-of-the-century emotive power-chorded goodness. I’m not mad. I moved here the next year and cherish this first Exit/In memory all the more because I got it solo. Here are some of the brilliant lyrics from this tough-love from a cat (named Virtue, of course) tune 😿:

All you ever want to do is drink and watch TV
Frankly that thing doesn’t really interest me
I swear I’m going to bite you hard and taste your tinny blood
If you don’t stop the self-defeating lies you’ve been repeating since the day you brought me home

I know you’re strong

“Plea from a Cat Named Virtue”

Japanese Breakfast – “Be Sweet” – this one appears on Michelle Zauner’s newest release, Jubilee (also a 2021 #RecordoftheWeek, as it happens). But in 2018, Zach saw both J. Brekkie and Snail Mail at Exit/In. Pretty cool, since both artists are now playing much bigger spaces like OutLoud Festival this June and a headlining show at Brooklyn Bowl next may, respectively.

Jeff Buckley – “So Real” – I’ve got few words that can conceal my green (with envy) for listeners Christopher AND Paul, both of whom cited the 1995 Buckley show at Exit/In as one with great memories. While I wish he was currently amid some Grace 27th Anniversary tour, I’m actually so glad this gone-too-soon dream brother performed before cell phone videos, because my imagining of the experience seeing him live is about as sweet as it gets, however unreal.

Get (Exit/) In, Stay (Exit/) In

Here are several more acts seen on Elliston, with my best attempts at guessing the years (if not provided by listener-requesters) through the Googling power invested in me:

The Van-Dells are an oldies review (still performing!) that recorded a live album from The Exit/In in 1977, longtime fan and Knoxville native Holly reminded me, because she was there. See?! 👉🏻

Kaylie said Joanna Newsom in 2010 was as respectful a crowd one can imagine at a rock club, going so far as to sit down so someone in the back could watch Newsom play harp. (Nashville, where are your manners in 2021?!)

Andy also mentioned great shows from alt-country legends Son Volt (2008? 2009?) and experimental noisemakers Tortoise.

Matt saw German stoner-psych rockers Kadavar in the Before Times of sweet December 2019.

Also in late 2019, Sam got down with hardcore bands Norma Jean and The Devil Wears Prada at a sold-out show.

Martha Ann went down the road (Elliston Pl.) feeling GOOD when Phil Lesh and Friends stopped through in 2017.

Katy tried Le Tigre on for size. Meow.

JP enjoyed the seven-piece futuristic funk of Ghost-Note in fall 2018.

Laura got vibey with Daniel Lanois.

Michael saw Buckethead in 2018!

Reignwolf from the Pacific Northwest was Nate’s request and they played in 2014.

Hannah recalls with fondness the Jump Little Children reunion in 2015.

Dan Deacon in 2009 or 2012 was unforgettable, right, Abel? Here is Deacon’s 2015 NPR Tiny Desk Concert slash NPR office dance party (watch! 👇🏼):

Another few of my favorites were Shuggie Otis in 2013, Tune-Yards with My Brightest Diamond in 2018, and The Lees of Memory that same year. I’m sure I’ll think of more and add them in here when the memory is jogged.

Wanting to look forward and not necessarily back? Here are some great gigs coming up at Exit/In featuring artists you hear on WNXP:

We love you, Exit/In!