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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Michigander made a packed venue feel like an intimate house show

Michigander headlined a hometown show at Exit/In on April 29 and made all attendees glad they came.
Sara West
Jason Singer of Michigander opens his arms to take in the moment on stage, as photographed on April 29, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Sara West)

As someone whose heart was crushed when Exit/In, a venue right near campus, closed last November, I haven’t been lucky enough to visit the venue since its reopening. However, when I saw Michigander was headlining a hometown show at the venue, I knew I needed to attend. I’ve had Michigander’s music in my playlist for quite some time but haven’t had the chance to see the band perform until now. After seeing them rock the Exit/In stage, I certainly will not miss another performance. 

Austin Sawyer, who goes by Drumming Bird, opened the show and brought the most incredible cowboy singer-songwriter energy. I saw Sawyer last summer when he opened for Daniel Nunnelee, but seeing him play a full band set this time took his performance to another level. The band, consisting of Sam Killian on drums, Jack Filipovic on bass and Greggory Garner on guitar, had smiles on their faces throughout the show, and the energy was infectious. 

The group performed hits from Sawyer’s previous projects and his recent EP, “American Spirits.” Songs included “Weekend Fisherman,” “Blue Ribbon Baby” and the EP title track. Drumming Bird creates Americana singer-songwriter music, but the full band set brought an electric feel. Sawyer mentioned that this was the last night of the tour and that he was ecstatic that people came out early to watch him perform. If Sawyer’s voice and lyrics weren’t enough of a treat, he also made many jokes throughout his set — one of my favorites was about the Pedialyte he was drinking. When referencing his merch booth, he shared that he was selling vinyl but questioned whether people listened to them, quickly remembering that “it’s Nashville; everyone likes vinyl.”

After Sawyer and his band left the stage, fans began talking and bonding while waiting for Michigander. When the lead singer, Jason Singer, and the band appeared, I felt like I was watching a group of friends walk into my house — the band nonchalantly took the stage without making it a big production like most other artists. It was refreshing and made me feel like I was at an intimate house show, despite the packed general admission room. 

The band opened with their song “Stay Out Of It” and continued singing many hits to get the crowd dancing and singing along. Like Sawyer, Singer was not afraid to crack jokes throughout the show, like describing that he would play his songs “Music City style.” Most Michigander songs are alternative pop, but the group slowed some down to create a more acoustic indie sound. 

Before the band played their fourth song, Singer explained that they began releasing songs seven years ago and are thankful that their music has touched so many people since then. Singer then shared that they would be performing their first single, “Nineties” which is about how “the world sucks, but it sucks less when you’re surrounded by great people.” 

Two groups of “great people” that Singer was referencing included the audience and his band, which consisted of drummer Aaron Senor, guitarist Jake LeMond, and bassist Connor Robertson. Midway through the set, Singer jokingly began to sing the beginning of “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers, which got the crowd excited. Singer shared that the audience in Nashville sounded great by saying, “You guys sing good here, it’s nice.”

As the band’s Instagram posts promised, Michigander brought special guests throughout the show. The first was Mat Kearny, who joined Singer to perform an acoustic version of “Learning to Love.” Singer shared that Kearny’s show was the first concert he attended, making it extra special to have him on stage with him. The next guest was Briston Maroney, an “honorary band member” who graced the stage by performing “Misery.”

Toward the end of the set, Singer shared that he was grateful fans showed up to see them perform. 

“I know how hard it is to buy tickets and pay the fees and do the whole thing,” Singer said. “It sucks, we’ll just be honest, so thank you for going through all that to be here.” 

The band sang “Let Down” together before Singer shared that he doesn’t believe in encores and the next song would be their last and ended the night with “Superglue.” Before leaving the stage, Singer reminded fans how appreciative he was that they came.  

“It’s not about what you are but who you’re with,” Singer said. 

I was extremely glad I spent my night with Michigander and the packed room of fans. The community in the room was incredible, and next time Michigander is in town, I know I’ll be at the show.

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About the Contributor
Sara West
Sara West, Senior Staff Photographer
Sara West ('25) is majoring in psychology in the College of Arts and Science and human and organizational development in Peabody College. Sara loves going to concerts, thrifting and exploring new places. She was previously Deputy Photography Director and hopes to enter the music industry after graduating.  She can be reached at [email protected].
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