Art and Friends
By Kristen Roberts
Okay, settle in because I’m about to dive into one of the wildest concert experiences of my life. Art and Friends was a beautiful, inspiring celebration of the “weirder side of Nashville.” I’m from Tennessee and have been to Nashville on multiple occasions, but this is the first time that I truly experienced the love and passion of this amazing town. I felt like I was home even though my home was about 200 miles away. This is the first hometown show that felt like a homecoming, not only for the bands, but for the fans as well. It was a monumental festival and it felt like everyone who was there that night knew that. The show featured Nightingail, Liza Anne, Canon Blue, Bully, Coin, and Paramore. There were also booths set up to feature local artists and businesses. This show, organized by Paramore and their amazing team, literally could not have taken place anywhere else besides Nashville. It was astonishing to see how this city cultivated the different types of music and art presented at Art and Friends. All of the bands, artists, and businesses featured are based out of Nashville and I’ve never seen such a love for a community.
Nightingail kicked off this massive show and it could not have been better. The band’s dreamy sound drifted throughout the auditorium like a cloud. I also had the pleasure of standing next to Alicia Gail, the lead singer’s, mother. She was beaming as she watched her daughter up on that stage and being next to her made Nightingail’s set feel like a little family reunion.
Liza Anne’s set was a showcase of her latest album, “Fine But Dying.” On the record, she explores a lot of darker themes, which she addressed during her set. Liza Anne has such a magical quality about her. You’d almost expect glitter or smoke or something to burst out of her every time she moved. She commands the stage while remaining raw and vulnerable, which I think is an incredible attribute to have as a performer.
Canon Blue exploded onto the stage with a heart-pounding bass. His distinct electric sound was bewitching. It was during Canon Blue’s set that I realized the true insanity of this mini festival. This group of astounding, local artists were all under one roof! How often does that happen? Never? Insanity. I watched Canon Blue’s set end with a massive group of music lovers swaying to his enchanting music in pure bliss.
Bully is such a unique, powerful band. Their performance was unforgettable with their ice cream cone light shining bright during their set. I don’t know any other artist who can challenge the sound of lead singer, Alicia Bognanno. Like several other artists at Art and Friends, Bully references anxiety and mental illness in their songs, which I am so grateful for.
I’ve been to four Coin shows now and they never disappoint. They are an incredible live band with such an infectious energy. This was the first show of the evening where I saw hoards of people jumping to the beat and it was a beautiful sight. Coin opened up with “Growing Pains,” which is such a power move. The new single has been a fan favorite since its release back in February. The fan interaction during this set was so heartwarming. Chase Lawrence, the lead singer, temporarily rocked someone’s pink, light-up cowboy hat, so yeehaw.
All Paramore fans know how important this era was. It was the era of resilience. The band has been through so much these past few years, both as a group and as individuals, and their latest album, “After Laughter” shows it. The album was recorded in Nashville and the city itself shaped the record, so it only seemed right to end this era where it started, at home. Paramore’s two hour set was so full of love and sadness. The show, while it was a celebration, was also a goodbye and everyone there felt that. In this last set, we were blessed with the first live performance of “Tell Me How” and the last live performance of “Misery Business” (for a while at least). “After Laughter” was performed in its entirety, which was wild and wonderful. The dance moves never stopped. Even when the show ended and the lights came on, people were dancing to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” which was blasting from the speakers.
Art and Friends was a monumental event. Even though there were thousands of people there that night, it had the feeling of a small house show. Nashville’s local music, art, businesses all rolled into a wondrous, one of a kind experience. The bands were beaming and the art was popping. During Art and Friends, I felt such pride for a city I don’t even live in and hope this feeling never goes away.