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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.

Almost ‘Quittin’ Time’: Saying goodbye to Nashville with Morgan Wallen

Morgan Wallen brought out Theo Von, DeAndre Hopkins and ERNEST for the first show of his three-night stint in Nashville.
John Shearer
Morgan Wallen performs onstage during night one of his One Night At A Time tour at Nissan Stadium on May 2, 2024. (Photo courtesy of John Shearer/Getty Images)

My days left in Nashville are numbered, which means my opportunities for Music City concerts are also waning. On May 2, Morgan Wallen, Bailey Zimmerman, Nate Smith and Lauren Watkins gave me my final taste of Nashville live music for a while during their first of three shows at Nissan Stadium. 

Donning my flowered cowgirl boots for this final hurrah, I dove headfirst into the worsened Nashville traffic thanks to the arrival of Wallen and playoff hockey. While Watkins’s and Smith’s voices carried throughout the stadium, I tracked down the Field & Stream pop-up. Wallen and Eric Church own the outdoor lifestyle brand, whose Nashville-only pop-up included exclusive merchandise and a replica of Wallen’s Mamaw’s porch as featured on his “One Thing at a Time” album cover, where fans could take pictures. 

I took my seat as Zimmerman came on stage to thunderous applause. Although Wallen was the night’s main act, fans treated Zimmerman as the star of the show, rambunctiously singing along to his songs and filling most of the stadium. Zimmerman said he was thrilled to play for such an enthusiastic audience during his first performance in Nashville — and he was quick to say he hoped to be back as a headliner. 

A little after 9 p.m. CDT, the lights turned off, and the crowd rose to welcome Wallen to the stage. Wallen walked out through the tunnel as a recording of “Broadway Girls” played through the speakers. To the audience’s surprise, special guests comedian Theo Von and Tennessee Titans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins were by his side, but they didn’t come back out during the show.

Wallen opened with “Ain’t That Some” and “I Wrote The Book” alongside bursts of fire and fireworks on stage. 

“We’ve had this one circled on the calendar for a very long time,” Wallen said. 

He continued with his title track and my personal favorite, “One Thing at a Time,” then “Everything I Love” and “You Proof.” Just as the energy of the crowd was peaking, Wallen slowed things down by moving to the right side of the stage in front of bleachers and his high school flag to perform “‘98 Braves” and “7 Summers.” As the crowd’s light-up wristbands flashed red, white and blue for the Braves, he spoke about his connection with baseball growing up with the support of his coaches. The passion continues today through the Morgan Wallen Foundation. 

Following a few more songs, Wallen moved to the back of the stadium, where he performed facing the back end zone full of fans. Keeping with the intimacy of this move, he bellowed his cover of Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up” to begin this portion of the concert. Explaining how he misses being able to look at each fan in the eyes when performing at smaller venues earlier in his career, Wallen said moving around venues when performing is his way of “recreating a small town feel.”

Wallen’s performance of “Thought You Should Know” — which he dedicated to his mom — brought tears to mothers’ eyes in the audience as they belted along too knowingly to his lyrics. 

“You’ve been losing sleep since ‘93 — more like 2011,” one mom sang. 

Wallen joined Watkins in performing an unreleased song titled “Lies, Lies, Lies.” Watkins’s single “Mama, I Made It” was later released at midnight on May 3. 

“It’s unreleased, but not for long,” Wallen said about “Lies, Lies, Lies.” 

To conclude his time at the back of the stadium, Wallen performed “Sand in My Boots” on a dark wood piano in a slower and more emotional tone than the recorded version. He then moved back to the front of the stadium to perform “Up Down” and “COWGIRLS” with Zimmerman and special guest ERNEST. Wallen then shifted to the left side of the stage in front of the replica Mamaw’s porch. He said the importance of family in his life and success led him to put his Mamaw’s house on the cover of his album. 

“I can only imagine what she [my Mamaw] would be looking like right now,” Wallen said after describing the shock and delight on his Mamaw’s face after seeing him perform at the Appalachian Fair in Gray, Tenn. — the only show she ever saw of his. 

Sitting on the porch, Wallen performed “Chasing You” and “Man Made a Bar” before returning to the main stage. Flames burst up around him as he brought up the tempo with “Heartless,” which was followed by smoother songs — “Wasted on You,” “This Bar” and “More Than My Hometown.” During “This Bar,” the neon sign of Wallen’s soon-to-be bar named This Bar flashed on the screen. The light rain falling during these songs couldn’t put out the fire on stage or the audience’s excitement.  

“Whiskey Glasses,” one of Wallen’s biggest hits, ended the concert — a surreal experience after dancing countless times to this song with my friends. Wallen encored in a Steve McNair — the first true franchise quarterback of the Titans — jersey and a throwback Titans baseball hat featuring the Oilers logo. He performed “Thinkin’ About Me” and “Last Night,” ending with “The Way I Talk.” The Southern crowd sang along passionately to the lyrics in this last song, especially Wallen’s nods to his East Tennessee roots. Fans stayed behind this last song for autographs. Wallen lingered talking and joking with a small crowd around the stage — a manifestation of the style of small-town venues he referenced earlier in the show. 

Ending my time in Music City with a concert seems only fitting, and Wallen didn’t disappoint. Attending with my brother — his first concert — put my time in Nashville in perspective, serving as a bittersweet ending to my four years of live music and exploring the city. As Wallen sings in “Quittin’ Time”— “Every start has an end, every first has a last, every now has a then, every future has a past.” As I “hear that whistle blow,” I’m grateful to have closed out my college experience with Wallen’s heartfelt performance. These are the things I will truly miss — family, friends and live music on warm Nashville nights.

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About the Contributor
Rachael Perrotta
Rachael Perrotta, Former Editor-in-Chief
Rachael Perrotta ('24) is from Cranston, R.I., and majored in cognitive studies, political science and communication of science and technology and minored in gender and sexuality studies in Peabody College. She was also previously Senior Advisor and News Editor. If she's not pressing you for a comment, she's probably trying to convince you that she's over 5 feet tall, cheering on the Red Sox or wishing Nashville had a beach. She can be reached at [email protected].
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Katrina Shields
30 days ago

I’ve never seen a show, but I truly know one thing in this life. MORGAN COLE WALLEN is the most precious man on this planet 😍 and will ever be adored in my eyes.

1 month ago

I wish I had been able to go to his concerts in Tennessee. He’s one of my favourite musicians. I can’t believe how amazing he is. I love that man with all my heart ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️