Brandi Carlile Fans Get Personal Concert After Pilgrimage Festival Canceled

Pilgrimage Festival was a bust, but Brandi Carlile fans got the night of a lifetime!

September 23rd started early and ended late. My alarm was set for 5:30am in order to get ready and leave for Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin by 7:30am with some friends who were working the festival, and by the time we arrived, it was beginning to rain. About halfway to the farm, we received a notification that the festival had been canceled for the rest of the weekend. We ended up stranded in the pouring rain for about forty-five minutes before braving the monsoon back to the car, and headed home.

Disappointed, but looking forward to an excuse to spend a cozy day inside, I put on my pajamas and scrolled through Instagram to see that Brandi Carlile had announced that she would have a show Sunday night somewhere in Nashville, because ladies don’t take the night off… Cue the next hour and a half of me constantly refreshing my feed until the official announcement was made for a show at City Winery starting at 8:00pm. I immediately went to the venue’s website and attempted to buy tickets, which kept crashing the moment I clicked "purchase". Anyone who is an avid concert goer knows the sort of stress that goes along with trying to get into a pop up show—between me and my girlfriend, we had four devices open and actively trying to buy tickets. Everything. Kept. Crashing. On Instagram, everyone was extremely vocal that they also were not able to make final purchases, presumably because the venue’s website was not made for that sort of traffic.

Eventually, we said “screw it” and hopped in a Lyft to City Winery, where we proceeded to get in a line of about 150 people trying to buy directly from the box office. We were told that we were able to purchase from them, and continued to wait in the rain for three hours before finally reaching the front doors. Outside, fans were ordering pizzas to pass around to everyone who had been waiting a long time.  As we all checked our social medias, we discovered that more and more fans were able to get tickets online, and I contacted my friend Tristan to let him know he should continue to keep trying from home on his computer. He had received a confirmation number, but no email confirming the purchase, so we were not sure if we had the tickets locked in place.

Things were getting down to the wire, and the venue was already filling. When we were five people away from purchasing our tickets at the door, the director came out and announced that they were officially sold out. The room erupted into a giant wave of defeat. Some had traveled all the way across the country for Pilgrimage Festival just to see Brandi play. Now, they would have to go home with nothing but wet clothes and an unused entry bracelet.

Heartbroken, everyone just stayed in line for a few minutes, not wanting to give up the spot they had guarded so fiercely for hours and hours in the humidity and rain. I took Tristan’s confirmation number and showed it to the desk clerk at the venue. Seemingly too good to be true, she assured me that we did, in fact, have the tickets.

Commence numerous sighs of relief, and admittedly, a large glass of wine. About an hour later, the three of us were walking through the doors and toward the stage, and ended up about seven rows back in the center—arguably perfect placement.

As the lights dimmed, a representative for City Winery came out and thanked everyone for sticking it out even though the ticket situation was frustrating, to say the least. She then welcomed Brandi to the stage, who gave a brief introduction to the night’s festivities, which promised many surprises and a nearly all-female lineup. Included in the set list were Courtney Marie Andrews, Jade Bird, Savannah Conley, Katie Herzig, Ruby Amanfu, Liz Longley, Langhorne Slim, The Lone Bellow, Maggie Rogers, Anderson East, Kim Richey (WOW) and the ringwoman herself, Brandi Carlile. Each singer had a chance to perform their original content, with a few special nuggets like Brandi singing with her wife, Catherine, and giving an opportunity for one of her violinists to sing a song she had written.  

The entire concert ended up lasting four and a half hours, with the final bow happening around 12:30am. For someone who woke up at 5:30am and had been standing for about 10 hours straight, it was fairly exhausting, but the warmth and energy the artists brought to the stage kept me dancing the entire night. Those who had missed out on Pilgrimage Festival definitely found a different means of getting in hours of entertainment for only twenty-five dollars.

I was introduced to multiple new songs and artists that I have been listening to since that night, and the comradery shown by all of the women there created a space welcoming to everyone. Brandi’s crowds are generally like this, and she aims to recreate the City Winery show on a larger scale in Mexico for her “Girls Just Wanna” Festival, in which she plans to buck against the current trends of festivals all over the world having significantly more male performers than female performers.

At the end of the show (more like a party at this point), all of the singers came out and did a rendition of “Respect” in memory of the late and great Aretha Franklin. It felt like the perfect way to end a night, leaving the audience with the impact of women with powerful souls. I know it is a night I will remember not only for the stress it took to get there, but the payoff of being in the presence of love and resilience that night.  

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