Live on the Green: A Nashville rite of passage

It’s 7 p.m. and Live on the Green has conquered downtown Nashville again, just as it has for the last three Thursday nights.

Blue lights strobe along every closed-off intersection of Union Street, while the free concert series reverberates well beyond Third Avenue. High above the crowd, the Lightning 100 logo projects against the side of a Nashville skyscraper, beaming like the Bat-Signal of indie rock, calling fans to gather in Public Square Park.

The radio station has picked up the baton that Coachella and Bonnaroo have dropped, and has risen to the challenge of producing a festival that truly revolves around the music.

There is no abundance of flower crowns, no inescapable photos of the lineup plastered across all social media platforms, and—perhaps most relieving—no threat of dehydration in the desert or countryside.

Nashville couldn’t be a more gracious host to such an event. For years, music hopefuls have migrated to the city, aspiring to make their mark on the industry. Appreciation for music has become an expected personality trait for those who live here.

So it comes as no surprise that the Live on the Green crowd is a captivated one, singing and swaying with the bands they’ve followed since humble beginnings or listened to repetitively broadcasted on Lightning 100.

live-on-green-2No one here is fixated on the boho-chic outfits they planned to wear months in advance, and the amount of iPhones held above the audience to capture the performance on Snapchat is scarce.

The most dedicated congregate closest to the stage, but the overwhelming urge to hum along resonates throughout the park, even if the artist is completely unfamiliar to you. But that’s a rarity if you’re an indie band enthusiast—these songs are probably accumulating in your Spotify Discover Weekly playlist.

The concert series lineup causes a range of reactions, from a quick Google search of the band name to the need to mark the performance date in your calendar. Live on the Green has always balanced big names and rising stars. In past years, acts as popular as Alabama Shakes, Cold War Kids, and Cage the Elephant have graced the stage.

Now BØRNS is commanding the crowd with his hypnotic high notes and upbeat melodies. When the first notes of “American Money” play through the speakers, the audience offers anything they can to the performance: cheers, raised hands, and flawless harmonizing from those whose vocal training suddenly just became obvious.

While not everyone here has come solely for the music, it is an unspoken taboo to show up just because the event is free. Attendees can always find an aspect of the festival that appeals to them.

Maybe it’s the food-truck dominated Deadrick Street, featuring the vehicles Nashville always chases down, such as the Grilled Cheeserie and Retro Sno. Maybe it’s the vendors lining the borders of the venue, offering goodies like free Lyft coupon codes and complimentary Red Bull.

For Jesse Nordstrom, the weekend DJ and morning show co-host on Lightning 100, Live on the Green provides more than a show.

“My favorite part is the community that it has created over the years between talent, production, and the general assembly that helps to put on this event every year,” says Nordstrom.

“Every season I am reminded of my favorite bartender or security guard or stage manager, and I know that for the next four weeks I can look for their familiar faces.”

Although the festival has already wrapped up its eighth season, if you can make it to Tennessee during the series’ four-week run starting in mid-August, going to Live on the Green will teach you a lesson in concert attendance.

To find out more information, treat yourself to VIP tickets, and see 2017’s lineup, visit