It’s been a banner year for Nashville acts of all walks, from Americana to Post-Punk, everyone in town has managed to slice themselves a piece of the pie. Granted, some of those slices are bigger than others (so to speak), and few are likely more satisfying than that of Nashville’s favorite grunge rock band, Bully’s slice of 2017.
A year in review seems more than welcomed at this point in the write up, but for the sake of (relative) brevity, and (ultimate) sanity, let’s just roll through the quick hits. So Bully released their debut LP, Feels Like, on Columbia Records’ New York-based imprint, Startime International, which happens to house other Nashville-linked artists like COIN and Natalie Prass. Feels Like was a hit with critics and grunge fans alike, dubbing fronter Alicia Bognanno as a bastion of post-Nirvana grunge.
Even more so, the record legitimized Bully’s presence in Nashville, and in turn the rock scene itself. Where the ever playful Infinity Cat crew had carved out their share of the absurdist garage rock market, and Kings of Leon’s short lived Serpents & Snakes handled their respective veins, Bully came in like a tour de force, confidently planting their flag in the heart of Nashville’s rock community.
Fast forward to late 2015, and Bully is on the roll again for a second record, but this time around, they’ve come to an amicable exit from Startime (per Bognanno in an interview with The Tennessean, “[Startime] were cool enough to let us out and change it up a bit”), and so they were a big ticket free-agent on the independent label market. Moving on to 2017, Bully announces they’ve signed with (my favorite) indie label, Sub Pop, the original home of Nirvana, and so, the stage is set for Bully to make themselves comfortable in their most idyllic musical home.
Once Losing was released on October 20, 2017, Bully mania reached a fever pitch. So much so that they afforded themselves a sold out three night residency at one of Nashville’s most celebratory clubs, Mercy Lounge. Selling out any club, much less Mercy Lounge is no easy feat (but I likely don’t have to over explain that to you), and to do so threefold is truly a mark to marvel at. Now/It’s was fortunate enough to get to see the second of three shows at Mercy Lounge, and needless to say, it was stellar.
Following opening sets from Butthole (quickly becoming a personal favorite) and Daddy Issues (always excellent), Alicia, Reece Lazarus, Clayton Parker, and drummer (whose name I do not know, because that seems to be the one aspect of Bully that still needs some more settling) took the stage, as a sea of Nashville punks, admirers, gawkers, and everything in between stood with bated breath. There was no time wasted, as the band tore into what might be one of the finest punk songs of the decade, “Feel the Same,” off of Losing. The band proceeded to continue tearing through punk quintessence while Alicia made admiring nods to Butthole, Daddy Issues, Bully’s audience, and most importantly, Planned Parenthood and The Oasis Center, both of which were providing information and gear for any and all in attendance.
There is something to be said for Bully’s residency that’s already been expressed on other publications, but it (in my opinion) bears repeating: Bully has done something for Nashville that many have tried, and more have failed at - creating an community that breathes new life and perspective, and ultimately being inclusive and cognizant of what’s happening with Nashville’s rock scene and the world. It’s that sentimentality that offers a glimpse into the future of Bully, which will undoubtedly be filled with continued success now that Sub Pop is in their corner, and a community that will continue to look to them as an example.
Long live Bully.