By: Joseph Kathmann
It's nice being a music fan in Nashville. There's good music at every corner, and being a hop skip and a jump away from Bonnaroo is also nice. One festival that has been on the up and up over the past few years, and has really burst onto the scene in 2016 is Live on the Green, a totally FREE festival on the lawn of one of Nashville's most gorgeous buildings: the city's Metropolitan Courthouse. This festival took place over 4 weeks, with the first 3 weeks just occurring on Thursdays and the final week occurring over a 3 day weekend. Unfortunately I was unable to make it to week 4, but here are my thoughts on the bands I saw in the first 3 weeks of the festival.
Week 1: White Denim
I was with my parents week 1, and thus was unable to stick around for headliners Allen Stone and Andra Day. However, I was greeted with another solid set from White Denim. Having seen them at Forecastle (you can revisit my review of the day I spent there here). I kind of knew what to expect, but being in the crowd at LOTG was actually more enjoyable than Forecastle, which was a little surprising. I still questioned their setlist (seriously, guys, why don't you play "At Night in Dreams" in your live set??) but I had a good time. By the way I have to mention my parents joined me for this show, but they were not a fan of the jam-vibes from these guys. In case you were wondering.
I should also mention an awesome joke they have at their shows. When I saw them at Forecastle, they mentioned that it was their drummer's second show. I took this to heart and thought, "Wow, that was pretty cool." But then at Live on the Green they said the exact same thing. Either they have a really fast turnaround with their drummers, or that's an inside joke for the band. Kudos either way.
Week 2: JR JR, Passenger, Jenny Lewis
Week 2 was country night at LOTG, headlined by the legendary Jenny Lewis. While she had a rather lackluster opener before her in Passenger, (I really do not see the appeal of solo singer-songwriters, I'm sorry) Jenny Lewis was definitely one of the more Nashville-feeling sets I've been to, headlined by a few awesome cameos. For the final song Jenny Lewis casually brought up Nikki Lane to sing with her, who was watching from the artists only area. This was pretty dang cool, and I was hugely envious of just how casually this occurred. "Oh, hey Nikki is that you over there by the tent pole? Come on up here!" Not only that but periodically Jenny Lewis invited several Nashville singer-songwriters to join her throughout the set, which was also very cool. Jenny Lewis had a very casual and happy-going presence, and the crowd responded well to her. I am proud to say I had a grand ol' time watching her set.
Week 3: Kurt Vile and the Violators, Dawes
My final time at 2016's Live on the Green was truly special. First on the bill was Kurt Vile and the Violators. I was really looking forward to this set to see if his set at Lollapalooza was a fluke or not. (You can revisit our thoughts on their disappointing Lolla set here) Well, unfortunately I was once again disappointed by these guys. While the set was slightly more enjoyable than it was at Lolla, that was the problem. It was just slightly more enjoyable. These guys still left a lot to be desired as they just lacked any sort of energy throughout their set. Yes Kurt Vile is a "listen to music and chill" kind of band, but the crowd really struggled to stay in it. And when a crowd struggles to stay in it, the band struggles to find any energy as well.
However this night was so special because of the headliner, Dawes. This performance lifted everyone's spirits and was actually quite emotional by the time we got to set ender "All Your Favorite Bands." Even the new single, "When the Tequila Runs Out" was very enjoyable to hear live, though it should be noted that this was the only song they played from their new album. Bit of an ominous indication there. But Dawes was easily the best band to grace the first 3 weeks of Live on the Green, though that was almost to be expected. Dawes is made for a stage like Live on the Green, and you could tell that performance was really special to them.
At the end of the day, I was very impressed with almost all of the bands that came to Live on the Green in the first 3 weeks. This festival has come a long way in just a few short years (seriously-look at their lineup in 2013 and before and you'll see it) and with Nashville more popular now than ever before, I don't expect the quality of this festival to let up any time soon. Here's to 4 more great years!
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary (debatable) guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here: