March 09, 2012

SB12 Day 3: The Main Event

Today's the day!

We woke up Wednesday morning to great news - PDubbs was accepted for an interview into the UF College of Pharmacy!!! He's been waiting for weeks to hear back from Jacksonville and it was such a relief to get that email. We knew from that moment it was going to be a great day!

To celebrate, we went to our wonderfully helpful yelp app to find a breakfast place that was unique to Nashville. The reviews for Sky Blue Cafe told us that there was usually a line out the door for Sunday brunch - definitely a good sign! It was the perfect way to celebrate the good news.

Pdubbs wins the meal again.

We went back to the hotel to blog and send some emails before hitting the city again. We heard from several fans that they had seen the band outside the Ryman around 2 and were able to have their pictures taken with them. We casually strolled around the auditorium around that time hoping to catch a peek at the band. No cigar. 

We decided to take a long walk around the city to kill some time before the show. We stopped in at Hatch Show Prints to see them at work making some of their iconic prints. I honestly couldn't tell you what color the walls were because they were completely covered from floor to ceiling with posters! So many amazing artists were represented - Elvis, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash & newcomers like Regina Spektor, John Mayer and Wilco. The printing presses were hammering away in the back of the store. I could have spent hours (and all my money) looking around but we had other things to see!

We visited the Nashville Library, where our feet enjoyed a well-deserved break as we sat in the courtyard.  While it might not be an attraction, I love big old institutional buildings like libraries. This one is located smack dab in the middle of downtown Nashville, providing a perfect place to rest weary feet and brains.

After seeing our fair share of the streets, we headed back to the Ryman around 5 to get in line for the gates to open. We were behind about 7 other fans who were patiently waiting outside the barricades. About 15 minutes later, we spotted Ben Lovett, one of the M&S members, getting into a car with his girlfriend. A few of us from the line ran up to say hello and get a quick picture. He gave us a sweet, apologetic smile as he told us that he was heading out for 30 minutes. Of course, he ended up not coming back out to the fans but we got to talk to him!

While were we waiting, we also saw a bearded man dressed in skinny jeans, flannel shirt & vest pacing around outside. While his trademark hipster attire didn't warrant any notice at an event like this, we watched him because he kept nervously checking his cell phone and looking up and down the street. This continued for about half an hour until around 5:45, when a big white van pulled up and several guys jumped out. They greeted the skinny-jean clad dude then began unloading the van, which was also packed full of musical equipment. With their arms full of equipment, they ran into the auditorium through the artist door. As they ran away, I noticed the last one as the lead singer of Dawes, one of the bands that was opening for Mumford that night. We would find out later that these guys had just gotten into town after playing a gig in LONDON the night before. It made me exhausted just thinking about that trek, but clearly playing in the Ryman for the first time was well-worth the crazy voyage!

The crowds slowly trickled in until they opened the gates at 6:30. After a quick flash of ID, we received our "grown-up" wristbands, got our tickets scanned, and made a beeline for the merchandise counter before taking our seats. I had researched our seats online before coming so I was under the impression that they would be considered obstructed view, as there are dozens of pillars holding up the balcony seats. But I was pleasantly surprised thrilled when we took our seats with this glorious view!

Our rookie concert-goer status was pretty evident as we were a couple of the first people to take our seats around 6:40.  But our new friends from the forum were also early birds, who happened to have tickets to all 3 shows! They stopped by to chat and told us all about the show Tuesday night. Everyone else filed in somewhere between 7:25 and 9:15 with beers, shirts & posters in hand. But we were in our own little world as we took everything in, speculated about what songs they would sing and said a few prayers that Marcus would be well.

The Apache Relay opened the show with a solid set, followed by Dawes. When these bands were announced as support for our show, I tried to become more familiar with their music so I could appreciate it more. I was able to sing along to a couple songs in each of the sets and we both enjoyed every single song. Both bands were extremely fun to watch. I especially loved watching the lead singer of Dawes, Taylor Goldsmith, jam out on guitar. PDubbs & I were laughing most of the time as homeboy boogied all over the stage, just jamming away.  We were surprised at how few people were in their seats during both of the opening sets, especially given how awesome these up-and-coming bands were.

Finally, it was time for the main event! The lights dimmed and the crowd rose to their feet, an attention most would hold all night. The spotlights came on as the boys made their way across the stage, grabbed their instruments and began with their album's namesake, Sigh No More. From my obsessive extensive research, I've found out that they frequently open with this song and I totally get why - it starts out slowly and simply with just a guitar, a harmony and some beautiful words. The song gradually builds as more instruments and rhythms are added. During the show, the sound filled the auditorium and the entire crowd was singing the beautiful lyrics, a trend that would continue all night. It was a wonderful way to start the show!

They continued with some more favorites from Sigh No More, including PDubb's fave, Roll Away Your Stone. They also threw in a couple of newer numbers in the mix, such as Lovers' Eyes and Lover of the Light. The crowd sang, clapped and stomped the whole night and whooped for their favorites (which was all of them). Something about stomping in a venue like that felt sacrilegious yet incredibly necessary. It was a blast!

You could tell the band was having a lot of fun, too, as they smiled and joked with the crowd in between songs. They all repeated the same sentiment about being honored to play at the Ryman. Ben said it was cutting into their time recording the new album but they "just HAD to be here".  They slowed down the show perfectly with moving versions of Timshel & Ghosts That We Knew, which I think were especially beautiful in this venue. Their talent never ceases to amaze me as they take on these two songs with little more than their voices.

I was a bit envious when our friends told us that Jerry Douglas had come out to perform a cover of The Boxer during Tuesday night's show. But we were happily surprised for the second time when Marcus introduced "Mr. Jerry Douglas" again! He walked on stage with his Dobro, tuned it up a bit, as Winston continued the introductions, mentioning that Jerry had "played at the Ryman about 5,000 times". Marcus joked that "he's improved". And with that, they were off with The Boxer. I might even like this version more than the original! What do you think?

The Boxer

Jerry stayed on stage for Awake My Soul, where the Dobro added an eeriness that definitely had me guessing as to what song I was actually listening to. But it was eery in the best possible way. This song turned into a big stompin' fest - the floor was literally shaking from all of the stomping. It just felt right. You know, until we were off beat. It was really cool to see the admiration these guys had for Jerry Douglas as they gathered around him with their instruments during the song. They just wanted to be close to him! Jerry left the stage after a big bear hug from each of the band members and an appreciative round of applause from the crowd.
Awake My Soul

They finished the set with a new song, Broken Crown, and Dust Bowl Dance. Both were rocking (Marcus broke a guitar string during Broken Crown!) but Dust Bowl Dance was the highlight of the show for us both! It was probably the best song I have ever seen performed live. There's not much more I can say besides mind-blowing. Yep, mind-blowing. Sorry for the lack of adjectives but you just need to see it yourself! And please enjoy Ben knocking over his microphone stand around 4:20 :)

Before they were even off the stage, the crowd was back to clapping & stomping in unison for an encore. After this continued for several minutes, the band returned with Bud Lights in hand ready for some more. Marcus had a little fun with a member of the audience as he began to introduce the next song as a new one, and someone yelled out "Liar!" (a title of one of their songs). Marcus took it in stride and responded "Liar? No, no, that's quite old, actually. No, now you're the liar." They began with an unplugged version of Sister, as they stepped to the front of the stage with nothing but their acoustic instruments. Their lovely harmonies were really evident in this song as long as the audience could stay quiet!


They followed this beauty by debuting a brand new song that had only been performed in front of an audience once before - at Tuesday night's show. They're calling it Where Are You Now, and it is crazy beautiful. It was the first time the crowd had been completely silent the entire night, which added to the magical experience. It's so awesome that they perform their new material for their fans before even putting it on an album. And I'm sure the final version will be slightly different if it even makes it to the new album. But I love that they aren't afraid to put out new stuff, get fan feedback and evolve with the music. I think that's one of the reasons why they have such a loyal fan base as well as amazing music.  Please go listen to it at your earliest convenience, but make sure you have some tissues ready!

The Cave

And what would a Mumford & Sons concert be without The Cave? It totally brought down the house and had us both singing at the top of our lungs, along with the other 2,000 fans. And the band was right there with us, smiling the whole time and enjoying the moment. After they graciously thanked the audience (for the millionth time that night!), everyone parted ways. Every single person left with a huge smile across their face. And even as we were walking the streets an hour later after dinner, we ran into several groups of people singing various renditions songs from the show or talking excitedly about their favorite moments.

Hands down, this was my favorite concert I've ever been too. Their incredible harmonies are full of passion, which just sucks you into every song. I was kind of surprised how sad I was to see each and every song end but then I would eagerly anticipate the beginning of the next one. I was a huge M&S fan before, but seeing them in concert and hearing about how they interact with their fans just made me love them even more.

I know I speak for PDubbs too when I say that we are so very grateful to have gotten this opportunity and thankful for my awesome parents for making it all possible. We're lucky for the good people we met along the way and the memories we will always share from our last amazing spring break. We might not get a chance to do something like this in a long time between careers and schools, but I think we made the most of it and we're ready to tackle the next few months before graduation!

Sorry for such a long post! I had a lot of feelings about the show and wanted to blog about them to get them all out. As a reward for making it so far, here's a link to an mp3 of the new song! And below I've posted the set list with links to some of the youtube videos I've found from that night so you can relive it with us :)

Opening Acts

Mumford & Sons
Roll Away Your Stone
The Boxer with Jerry Douglas
Awake My Soul with Jerry Douglas

Where Are You Now (New Song)


Beth said...

You are seriously THE most adorable, M&S fan ever! I love "hearing" your excitement about the show! Reminds me a lot of your dad & I at U2 & Wilco shows in years gone by. :) So happy you had such a wonderful experience, kiddo! Love you!

Monica said...

i'm loving how much you had to share about this experience... so glad you guys went! much love <3