Big Ears 2017 Preview

It’s nearly spring, which means festival season has began to peek it’s head around the corner. There’s a lot to be excited about right here in Knoxville: local festival Big Ears, presented by AC Entertainment, is set to draw large crowds with its gathering of avant-garde and experimental talent. The annual event celebrates its 8th anniversary on Thursday, March 23rd through Sunday, March 26th featuring dozens of acclaimed musicians, filmmakers, composers, and other talented artists.

Big Ears has been hailed as a “hidden gem” by national publications, and rightly so. Never would I have imagined such an astounding collection of experimental and abstract art to congregate in East Tennessee, but I was able to witness the magic for the first time last March. Going into my second time attending Big Ears, and I could not be more excited. The lineup combines the old and contemporary, the rock ‘n’ rollers and the classical composers, and everything in between. It’s a crazy genre bending experience from start to finish.

When you come to Big Ears, you never know exactly what to expect. You may look at the Big Ears lineup and only recognize one or two artists and be a bit worried. For the average festival, one usually scopes out the headliners, the smaller named acts that they love, and maybe some artists that they’ve heard of but haven’t given a chance. But this isn’t an average festival by any measure. Big Ears does have exciting headliners, but most of the fun in the festival is discovering bands and artists you would not have listened to otherwise. Even as someone who is particularly interested in underground and indie music, I haven’t had exposure to a lot of the bands on Big Ears’ lineup. I expect to find a few new bands to love by going and seeing every possible show that I can four days. The best advice I can give to newcomers: go in with open ears and an open mind.

One of the performers I’m most excited for is Lætitia Sadier, who will be playing at The Standard on Friday, March 24th. Sadier is most well known for her work as a vocalist and instrumentalist in the art pop/experimental band Stereolab. Next Friday’s blog will have a more in-depth look at Sadier and Stereolab.

You may learn more about the Big Ears Festival including a detailed schedule at

For experimental and indie music, including artists performing at Big Ears, listen to the The Indie Aisle (co-hosted by me!) Mondays 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Tune In or mp3 stream.