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The Vanderbilt Hustler

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.

Nashville got the ‘Star Treatment’ with Arctic Monkeys’ performance at Ascend Amphitheater

Arctic Monkeys’ first night in Nashville was a success with many impressive musical moments and harmonious lyrics, giving a 1970s aesthetic.
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Josh Rehders
Arctic Monkeys perform at Ascend Ampitheater in Nashville, TN, as photographed on Sept, 12, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders)

Although I am a new fan of Arctic Monkeys, I knew their first night at Ascend Amphitheater was going to be memorable. Their fluidity as a band is no surprise since they have been together since 2002. The English quartet has a vintage style, with old set pieces and a rock aesthetic of the ‘70s, making the performance a unique mix of retro style and new music. 

Arctic Monkeys are known for their rock and roll feel, so it is no surprise that their opener would be the same. Fontaines D.C. is a post-punk band out of Dublin, Ireland formed in 2014, featuring members Grian Chatten, Carlos O’Connell, Conor Curley, Conor Deegan lll and Tom Coll. Throughout the opening act, the band flowed from one song to the next. Some notable songs from the setlist were “A Lucid Dream” from Fontaines D.C.’s 2020 album, “A Hero’s Death,” and the last song of the night “I Love You” released in their 2022 album, “Skinty Fia.” Chatten, the lead singer, was very emotive and moved about the stage frequently, keeping the audience engaged. Overall, Fontaines D.C. got a solid reaction from the crowd and prepared the amphitheater for the main show with their timeless appeal. 

Grain Chatten sings at front stage at Ascend Amphitheater, as captured on Sept. 12, 2023 (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders)

During the interlude between acts, the stage for Arctic Monkeys slowly came together, with a disco ball and a large ring-shaped screen. Throughout the show, the screen lit up for each song with different colors dancing around the venue. As Arctic Monkeys took the stage, it was evident they coordinated outfits with black jackets and suit pants, and each member waved to the crowd as they got into place. 

The show started with one of their most well-known songs, “Do I Wanna Know?” With their jazz-like flow and rock twist, they made it practically impossible to not dance or sway with the music, keeping the crowd in constant movement throughout the show. The song uses a dark tone to describe unrequited love while encapsulating the emotional turmoil miscommunication can have on a relationship. Its distinct message and iconic jazz sound are what make “Do I Wanna Know?” a great song to see live.

There were numerous instances that demonstrated the band’s multifaceted abilities.Turner displayed versatility during “Star Treatment” with his large vocal range, making the song one of my favorites from the night. Another remarkable song was “Sculpture Of Anything Goes,” which had a slow tempo and mesmerizing beat that lured the crowd in with each line. 

Moments later, “Knee Socks” made me feel as if I was transported into the ‘70s, with classic movies like “Star Wars” just releasing in theaters and iconic bands like Fleetwood Mac and Queen dominating the radio, because of its perfect blend of rock and alternative genres. Arctic Monkeys is a band that could withstand any decade you put them in due to their style molding to many genres of music. “Knee Socks” is from the point of view of a person who wasn’t ready for their relationship to end and is left to reminisce about what they once had. The song holds an emotional tone that enraptures you in the pain of loss. The entire concert felt like a daydream with the crowd’s heads in the clouds, slowly floating back down to earth with each illustrative lyric. 

Throughout the show, I wondered when the disco ball at the top of the stage would lower. After “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball,” the lights shifted to shine on the disco ball, and “505” began to play as the disco ball spun, casting the venue in a polka dot glow. “505” is a metaphor for a time when a relationship was at its best, and with the disco ball gleaming above the band’s head, it felt like the perfect moment in time. It felt as though the music was playing in your chest, creating a more intimate feeling.

Something that made this concert unique was the lack of conversation between the band members and the audience. The introductions to each song were short or purely instrumental, allowing the audience to focus solely on the music. The audience was captivated more by the music because of the minimal distractions. Turner’s languid movements also drew attention, flowing with the beat and making you want to follow along. 

It seemed like the show concluded with “Body Paint,” but Arctic Monkeys did not stay away for long before returning for more. They played “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” from the band’s first album and “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” as the second encore, receiving boisterous screams from the crowd. The song was the group’s first U.K. number one single and has been a fan favorite since its release in 2005. The audience’s reactions never wavered; the concert could have lasted all night and people would still be cheering.

Arctic Monkeys gave a seasoned performance that flowed with expert precision, displaying how to hold an audience with music and minimal distractions. The night was a thrilling experience, and the band is one that you have to see live to understand the full range of their talent. 

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About the Contributors
Chloe Pryor, Staff Writer and Photographer
Chloe Pryor (‘26) is from Fort Smith, Ark., and is double majoring in psychology and communications studies. When not writing for The Hustler, you can fund her reading, drawing or running late for class. You can reach her at [email protected].
Josh Rehders, Photography Director
Josh Rehders ('24) is from Houston and is studying computer science in the School of Engineering. When he is not shooting for The Hustler, Vanderbilt Athletics or freelancing, he enjoys finding new music and good food. He can be reached at [email protected].
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