It feels like we were just bidding the 2014 season of Live on the Green farewell, but, here we are again, ready to kick off another exciting year of the annual free outdoor fest TONIGHT, Aug. 20 at Public Square Park. Per the new format established last summer, Live on the Green will run four consecutive Thursdays and culminate with an epic three-day finale. The biggest change this year is the addition of a second stage for the final weekend, meaning more bands than ever, and the 2015 season is looking stellar, with performers like Ben Folds, Passion Pit, Cold War Kids, and more in the coming weeks. Tonight’s inaugural installment is set to include Lord Huron, Shakey Graves, and Elliot Root, so, clearly, LOTG is geared up to hit the ground running. Find out more about all three bands and why you absolutely don’t want to miss them, after the jump!
Per usual, LOTG is free and all ages, and music will run from 6:15 p.m. to 11 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m., and there will be plenty of food and beer vendors on site to meet your needs. Parking is just $5 at the Public Square Park Garage below the festival site, and various other garages and street parking options are available on the surrounding blocks. Finally, if you’re looking to up the ante on your LOTG experience, VIP tickets and backstage passes are typically available for purchase, however both are SOLD OUT for this evening (better get a jump on the upcoming weeks if you want to snag premium tickets). Find out more about this week’s installment below, and find out more about the entire season on Live on the Green’s site.
Indie folksters Lord Huron have had an amazing few years of success, leading up to this point where they can headline a high-profile event like Live on the Green. Though based in LA, we’ve felt especially plugged into their ascent, simply because they’ve made a point to play Nashville nearly each and every tour, and we’ve watched them grow from a tiny band at The High Watt (2011) to selling out 3rd & Lindsey (2012) and Cannery Ballroom (2013), and, most recently, graduating to The Ryman, all the while making stops at Bonnaroo (2013), Forecastle (2014), and various other fests across the globe.
Lord Huron began as the solo project of frontman Ben Schneider in 2010. As Schneider’s initial EP began generating buzz, the singer assembled a proper band and hit the road. Their first full band EP, Mighty, was released in the fall of 2010, and helped them continue to tour and score spots at SXSW and major festivals throughout 2011. Initially a bit a of mystery, the group put equal care in their music as they did their image and mythology, meticulously matching every visual and creating a band art-project persona that borrowed from a very cowboy vibe (like late 1800’s, real-deal cowboys, not top 40 Nashville radio cowboys). This would define the band throughout the breakthrough debut full-length, Lonesome Dreams, which propelled them to international attention in 2012, though, with the cycle surrounding this year’s Strange Trails, the cowboy/campfire aesthetic seems to be somewhat toned down, at least visually.
Through their full-lengths, Lord Huron have settled into a very confident, folky, indie rock sound not dissimilar from Fleet Foxes, with a dash of Bahamas. Their attention to musical detail is just as focused as visual detail; every arrangement, tonal decision, and haunting harmony is perfectly placed. Image/gimmick/whatever aside, though, they’re simply strong songwriters and a really refreshingly good band. Thematically, their songs are well within their image, often covering topics like distance and love; again, something a little less constrained, or, perhaps, just more refined and confident, on their sophomore effort. Nashville clearly loves ’em, so it probably goes without saying, but Lord Huron are a fantastic choice to kick off what’s shaping up to be the best Live on the Green season ever!
Born Alejandro Rose-Garcia, Shakey Graves, is easily one of the best one-man-band performers making music today. Though he does typically employ some accompaniment on stage these days, the performer first wowed us without a setup that included a suitcase-turned-kick drum, a pedal controlled tambourine, and bluesy, folky, country, and Americana guitar work tied together by his soulful crooning; alone on stage, but never sounding incomplete. Hailing from Austin, Texas, the singer actually got his start in acting, appearing in a recurring role on Friday Night Lights, before earning a reputation as a performer in New York’s underground folk scene. Graves’ 2011 self-released debut, Roll The Bones, was met with much critical praise and ever growing fan appreciation, spawning a followup EP, Donor Blues, and buzzworthy 2014 full-length, And The War Came. In a somewhat unorthodox move, Graves released a limited EP of b-sides, Nobody’s Fool, earlier this year, but only made it available to coincide with Austin’s mayoral-decreed “Shakey Graves Day,” a tradition which will continue annually. We’ve seen Shakey perform in both clubs and on big festival stages, and he’s never anything short of stellar; if you haven’t yet caught his unparalleled live show, tonight’s your chance.
Per Live on the Green tradition, tonight’s show kicks off with a local performance, from folky/alt rockers Elliot Root. Over the past couple of years, the group have cemented their sound and found a local following through their three EPS, ER/EP, II, and, most recently, Thoughts from Yesterday. Their pleasant, layered songwriting benefits from pop sensibilities and intelligently-crafted hooks, and the handful of times we’ve had the pleasure of seeing the quintet live, they’ve always been fantastic. Be sure to show up early to show them some local love!