Granted, this wasn’t the Beatles in The Cavern Club, the Boss at the Stone Pony, or the Stones at the El Mocambo.
Thursday night, though, AmericanaFest patrons could witness multiple platinum-selling roots music darlings The Lumineers in the relatively cozy confines of downtown’s The Cannery (capacity 1,000).
Consider: The Denver-based band has sold out Madison Square Garden (20,789 capacity, in one day) as well as the Hollywood Bowl (17,500 capacity. Locally, it has been playing and selling out multiple nights at the Ryman Auditorium (2,362 capacity) as early as 2013 and opened AmericanaFest last year as Ascend Amphitheater headliners (capacity 6,800).
Credit goes to the AmericanaFest bookers, though, for recognizing that only on a night with Van Morrison playing down the street at Ascend can you get away with a bill featuring both The Lumineers and fellow big draws the Drive-By Truckers, the latter of which was in full guitar-blazing glory well past the midnight hour.
Scott Robinson, CEO and co-founder of Nashville’s Dualtone Records, which took a chance on The Lumineers years ago and wound up with by far the label’s biggest commercial success story, could be seen meeting and greeting at the bar.
He must have felt as if caught up in a time warp.
This was a young crowd, female-dominated, well-behaved (if chatty), and ready to shout out modern folk-rock anthems at the drop of a cymbal. When the three-member band unplugged later in its set for “Ho Hey,” small wonder the back of the room could hear lead singer-guitarist Wesley Schultz and the lyrics just fine. “I belong with you, you belong with me …”
Beyond their many hits, set standouts included a plaintive cover of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “Walls.” It may have been the only song the bulk of the crowd didn’t know by heart.
Benefitting from The Cannery lineup slot preceding The Lumineers, eclectic singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins offered a set filled with richly textured songs delivered with the genial swagger befitting someone who hails from Asbury Park, N.J.
Now a Nashvillian, the 38-year-old has been touring the country and talking candidly to big media entities such as The Washington Post and Chicago Tribune about her struggles with anxiety and alcoholism.
Atkins recently released her fourth album, “Goodnight Rhonda Lee,” the title track co-written with her friend and mentor Chris Isaak. She’s worthy of your continued attention.
The 18th annual AmericanaFest continues through Sunday at various sites throughout Nashville. For an up-to-date schedule, go to http://americanamusic.org/2017-schedule