Anarchy in Music City to Celebrate Four Decades of Nashville Punk

“Well golly, Nashville’s got way more than just country music!” You’ve heard it. And heard it. It’s old news. To borrow a grim metaphor, that particular horse is very, very dead, and the Exit/In’s wall of fame is something of a memorial to it.

That’s the case due to the persistence of many different kinds of music communities in Nashville over the past six decades. One very important one to consider is the local rock and punk scene of the 1980s. Former Scene music editor Tracy Moore put it very succinctly in her contribution to our 30th anniversary issue in August: “Anyone enjoying the current iteration will find that the brick those people laid is the same one every rock scene here since has stood on.”

Those people Moore refers to wrote, recorded, hung out and played around town — at enduring places like Exit/In and long-gone spots like Cantrell’s (whose building is now the Chuy’s in Midtown) and Phranks ’N’ Steins (in the basement of what’s now St. Mary’s Bookstore on West End Avenue). She talked to quite a few of them in her 2006 story “Never in Nashville,” and you can see several of them yourself at a special reunion show at The End. 

The Ratz, Cloverbottom, USR and File 13 were all part of that first wave of punks circa 1979, when the city wasn’t perceived as a welcoming place for them. Thrash-y punks like 69 Tribe and post-punk groups like Shadow 15 came a bit later. Along with a younger hardcore-schooled outfit called Tank Rats, all of those groups are set to perform at Saturday’s show, billed as Anarchy in Music City: 1979-2019. 

The gig was organized by Dave Willie, the frontman of another O.G. punk outfit called Committee for Public Safety. (You might have seen CPS along with The Ratz at the Springwater show honoring Dave Cloud, Paul Booker and Pat Albert in 2018. If so, you learned quickly that they haven’t mellowed a bit since 1982.) The show kicks off at 7 p.m. and advance tickets are $7. Keep an eye on the Facebook event page for updates.

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