One of the biggest perks of living in the Nashville area is all the concerts. It feels like everyone who’s anyone eventually comes to play here, and if you’re lucky, your favorite acts will be frequent flyers. In addition to the regular concerts in the traditional concert venues, there are tons of free concerts by major artists, if you know where to look. For example, I’ve written before about seeing Love and Theft at 3rd and Lindsley courtesy of a free radio promotion, but nothing, nothing compares to the free concert I went to in November.
The County Music Awards (CMAs) are held in Nashville every year and are promoted as “Country Music Biggest Night.” The week or two leading up to the awards ceremony, there are typically several high-profile events, but I’ve never been able to score an invite. This year, though, I got an email from a friend saying they heard about a free block party downtown at 10pm, featuring Hunter Hayes, Dan + Shay, and many more.
I showed up outside the Bridgestone Arena (which I still refer to by it’s previous name – the GEC) around 9pm, which turned out to be timed perfectly, as they had just opened up the makeshift gates to let people in. Everyone was given a funky rubber wristband with Hunter Hayes’ initials, and we settled in to wait for the first act. Thankfully it was a rare, warmish night (well, at least for November), so we weren’t freezing in the open air. Once the block party actually started, it was everything I could have hoped for and more. Hunter Hayes opened, and then multiple other acts came out to sing a song or two of their own (with Hunter Hayes’ band backing them). The format was very smart – normally everyone has their individual bands back them, but this really helped streamline the process, plus it meant there was a lot of Hunter Hayes in between everyone else. Some of the other acts included:
Eric Paslay – “Friday Night”
Kellie Pickler – “Red High Heels”
Dan + Shay – “Show You Off”
Charlie Worsham – “Want Me Too”
Kristian Bush (of Suglarland fame) – “Trailer Hitch”
Any many, many, many more!
During the show, the bracelets we were given when we walked in, lit up in with different colors in concordance with the light show on stage. It made everyone feel like they were involved in the production.
The block party lasted til almost 1am. The longer it lasted, the more people left, and the closer I got to the stage as a result. By the time the last chord was played, I had almost lost my voice from screaming and singing so hard, but it was such an amazing time, I felt I was floating on air.