Three is the magic number: Top musical trios

After longtime three-piece band Yo La Tengo’s incredible two-night stint in Nashville, I was thinking a lot about how much racket can be made by just three people (on stage and on record). While we love our sprawling, van-packing bands with half a dozen instrumentalists in tow (I see you Polyphonic Spree, St. Paul and The Broken Bones, etc.), there’s surely something sacred about a power trio. And WNXP listeners agreed.

First broadcast on 3/30, you can now stream (👇🏼) the latest #ThematicStatic show and share! Weigh in on future themes, or really anytime with your requests, on Twitter or Instagram @WNXPNashville.

#ThematicStatic Playlist – 3/30/23

Styrofoam Winos – “Stuck in a Museum” – Stephen shouted out this local trio, including Lou, Joe and Trevor, whose excellent self-titled record was released in 2021. (Find it on Bandcamp and in local stores, too!)

HAIM “Don’t Wanna” – Beatriz and Emily both requested this sister trio.

Wipers – “Romeo” – Ty resuscitated this early Pacific Northwest punk rock trio — Greg, Sam and Dave — for the themed set. I firmly believe we need more Wipers in the library. Thanks, Ty!

Le Tigre – “Deceptacon” – I snagged a clean version of this banger from Kathleen Hanna (who just performed with her first band, riot grrrl legends Bikini Kill, at Marathon Music Works) Johanna Fateman and Sadie Benning, who formed Le Tigre in New York City in the late 90s.

Nickel Creek – “Strangers” – The sweet harmonies and expert pickin’ of beloved bluegrass trio Nickel Creek — siblings Sara and Sean Watson, plus Chris Thile — are back with this year’s release Celebrants, the band’s first studio record in nearly a decade. They play three nights at Ryman Auditorium late this month and, thanks to Jimmy’s request on Instagram, I included new tune “Strangers” in this set.

De La Soul – “D.A.I.S.Y. Age” – Kevin, Vincent and David are the given names of the members De La Soul (an influential hip hop trio we celebrated for several days in a throwback Record of the Week, great coverage by Marquis Munson). Tyler requested De La for the trios theme.

MUNA – “Runner’s High” – Roy asked for MUNA, another band that reimagined their thumping but ethereal pop songs to play them acoustic in our Sonic Cathedral. For Thematic Static, I played “Runner’s High” off their 2022 self-titled record, and it goes something like this:

Didn’t fake those tears
But I haven’t felt like crying
Since I put the car in gear
I’ve been feeling alright
Moving fast so you can’t cross my mind
Sometimes I wonder if I’m on a runner’s high

“Runner’s High”
MUNA in WNXP’s Sonic Cathedral in 2022

VEAUX – “Golden” – Big news today about this Nashville-based trio, including brothers Dominick and Aaron Wagner and their friend Andrew Black: after winning folks over at WNXP’s sold-out 2nd birthday show in December, VEAUX will play our first Next Up concert at Brooklyn Bowl on April 26 with fellow rising star locals Elke and Brian Brown!

When the guys played in our Sonic Cathedral recently, I asked about their own favorite trios. Great off-the-cuff requests for this Thematic Static included…

Fugees – “Fu-Gee-La” – Aaron chose Fugees without overthinking it. The hip-hop/R&B trio has sold almost 14,000,000 copies of their 1996 record The Score, which includes multiple versions of this song:

blink-182 – “Don’t Leave Me” – Dominick doesn’t have tickets to the show this summer, and neither do it, but I’m going to manifest our side-stage hang while Mark, Tom and Trevor power chord the heck out of Bridgestone Arena. This is one from 1999 record Enema of the State.

Khruangbin – “Maria También” – Andrew conjured this Texas trio, which puts on one of the vibe-iest concerts of modern times. ICYMI, I talked to Laura and DJ before Khruangbin’s Railbird Festival performance in 2021 and then Marquis chatted with the same 2/3 of the band a few months later before they played two nights at Ryman Auditorium. Mark plays guitar.

ZZ Top – “La Grange” – They didn’t invent the trio but they successfully maintained one longer than most. Formed in 1969, ZZ Top was a three-piece including the original lineup of Billy Gibbons, Frank Ballard and Dusty Hill until Hills passing in 2021. Don’t pretend this song doesn’t totally rip as of yesterday, today and forever. Here they are in the ’80s:

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Y Control” – Kayb mentioned this Brooklyn trio, with Karen, Nick and Brian making a lot of noise back then (on 2003 debut Fever To Tell) and now (2022 release Cool It Down still spinning a lot on WNXP).