Jack Antonoff and the Bleachers at the Ryman

Electric atmosphere?  Anthemic choruses? Dueling drum sets?? Jack Antonoff and Bleachers deliver all three, and more, with exceptional, high-energy music. Originally from New Jersey, Bleachers has become the premier performing group for ten-time Grammy winner and back-to-back-to-back producer of the year winner Jack Antonoff. Antonoff has produced and written songs for several A-List performers including: Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Lorde, Lana Del Rey and many more. Don’t let this impressive list fool you, in the aptly named tour “From the Studio to the Stage” Antonoff continues to show why he is one of the most called musicians of the modern day.

I was personally surprised by the immense stage presence the band carried. After listening to their music to prepare myself I expected a lower energy and more chill concert. I could not have been more wrong. The band took stage and immediately began to electrify the Ryman with songs from their newest self-titled album. It didn’t take long for a sold out show to have all empty seats, the crowd was immediately jumping, dancing, and screaming with Bleachers. The song “Modern Girl” especially surprised me as I struggled to hear the singers over the sea of shouting fans. It felt like I was in a movie with the way the crowd was moving and singing, it was surreal. This was only the beginning of the concert, they hadn’t even begun to dig into their most popular hits yet.

The energy almost never faded. The band did not take many breaks between songs and when they did it was typically accompanied by Antonoff speaking to the crowd (or his new friend Erin from the balcony). He paid homage to the history of the Ryman during one of these breaks and said that the band did not want to do any covers that would’ve been performed in years past. Instead, they opted to do a few songs specifically about where they came from in order to leave their own mark on the Ryman, further developing its long history. This development included “turning the Ryman from a church to a loud, dirty club” said Antonoff during a song. The band also interacted with the crowd, specifically Erin, who is evidently his new best friend just based on her vocal frequencies. He also shared that it is the band’s opinion that it is “embarrassing” to walk off stage and have the crowd cheer you back on, an idea that I rather enjoy. Though these breaks did cause stoppages in the high energy music, Antonoff continued the lighthearted and good feeling vibes with his shenanigans between songs.

The music itself carried some heavy influences that I could hear. Most noticeably the lyricism and delivery of the lyrics during the verses seemed to resemble that of Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen or Billy Joel depending on the song. Long winded phrases that maneuvered through a story, rushing as if part of a flashback of a memory long forgotten (or a memory too often remembered). It seemed that Bleachers adapted some of these stylistic ideas and combined them with modern production and shoutable choruses to create a portfolio of movie-esque, feel good songs. “I Love It,” it reminds me of the music my dad would play while working outside while also reminding me of the coming-of-age high school movies I loved as a child. They also have several songs that fall into more of a pop music category such as “I Wanna Get Better” which was also met with the exciting shouting of the crowd. The most surprising part of the music was the presence of two (yes two) drum sets on stage that almost always played together. The musical precision in the percussion of Sean Hutchinson and Mike Riddleberger was on blast during the entire concert. For the first time in a setting outside of random jam sessions I got to hear dueling drum sets which was a very welcome feature of this incredible concert. I am also thankful for Zem Audu and Evan Smith for bringing the saxophone into this music! Saxophone is always welcome in any music I listen to and the precision, tone quality and musicality is incredibly beneficial to this band’s electric aura.

No music from Jack Antonoff is music to be missed, and the addition of more top-class musicians to the band’s lineup has created one of the most enjoyable rock bands on the scene. Bleachers brought so much energy to Nashville and I am already waiting for them to come back and rock the city again.

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