This past week I had the pleasure of experiencing two of Nashville’s finest music venues and seeing some of my favorite artists perform live.
Wednesday night Lady Antebellum headlined at the Municipal Auditorium. The auditorium seats about half as many patrons as Bridgestone Arena. I was lucky enough to be about 15 feet from the stage, and right on the floor. The opener to kick off the evening was Thompson Square, who you may recognize from they’re hit single “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not.” Personally, I loved Shawna Thompson’s black and gold strapless dress with a full black tutu skirt. She looked like the country Katy Perry and sounded wonderful live. The married duo put on a high-energy show and certainly got the crowd excited for the next performer, Darrius Rucker. Darrius, in true country fashion, was sporting a ‘Mash’ t-shirt, jeans and a Nike hat. He played all of his top hits and two Hootie and the Blowfish songs.
Lady Antebellum was absolutely incredible. They worked the stage for the entire hour- and-a-half they played. At one point, they brought the entire band to the front of the stage where the crowd surrounded them. Hillary and Charles made every effort to touch the hands of fans reaching up to them. Dave had more guitar changes than I’ve ever seen in a show. The trio’s gift for live entertainment certainly accredits their record of winning the CMA Award for Single of The Year for two consecutive years. If the three of them weren’t enough for you, than maybe their special guests would have caught your attention. Only in Nashville is it possible for not one, but two, secret celebs to crash the stage. Luke Bryan joined Hillary, Charles and Dave and the four sang their co-written song “Do I” followed by a seemingly impromptu performance of “Country Girl.” To say the crowd went wild would definitely be an understatement. The shock barely wore off in time for Sara Evans to grace the stage. They performed her song “Stronger.” The excitement was not just evident among the crowd, but also on Hillary’s face. There was a certain level of disbelief accompanying her big smile. It demonstrates the friendship within the country music industry, something that is unique to Nashville’s culture, especially since Hillary is a born-and-raised Nashville girl.
Thursday night was my second venture to the historic Ryman auditorium, but it did not cease to amaze me. Seeing the Ryman is something every Vandy student should do before graduation. As you cross the threshold into the venue, you can feel the history of more than a 100 years of Nashville tradition. It is a unique experience to be sitting in the pew style benches, next to perfect strangers, and looking around at the pristine crown molding, regal arches and ‘Confederate Gallery’ signage. I could see every age represented in the audience, and there’s one thought: only at the Ryman.
Ben Rector was a huge crowd pleaser. He paid homage to being a Nashville native and the indescribable excitement he had for performing at this distinguished venue. He won the audience over by asking for a keyword in order to make up the third verse to a song off the top of his head. Naturally, the answer was “bacon.” If you have never heard of Ben Rector, you should definitely take the time to look him up. He’s a good-looking guy with a beautiful voice and has a true talent for song writing.
The excitement was radiating through this venue with the prospect of Needtobreathe’s entrance. I was expecting a wonderful show of my favorite songs and their sultry voices with that rock edge. What I saw, however, was more than an hour of Rock and Roll perfectly paired with the most incredible light show. They’re stage set was an old-time keyboard with “The Reckoning” spelled through middle (The Reckoning is the name of their last album and the 2012 tour.) This small town band from South Carolina has made great strides within the music industry the last few years. But what I have found more impressive is the band’s ability to infatuate an audience and lead every person in the room to believe that each song is being sung for just him or her. It is not a show I will be quick to forget.
Seeing both concerts was a true testament to why Nashville can be proudly called Music City. Nashville is one-of-a-kind and I urge you to take advantage of it being in our own backyard.