On a chilly Monday night at the start of the finals preparation frenzy, Exit/In opened its doors at 6:30 p.m. as the first few frozen college kids began to arrive for a night of music with Kel and friends, The Pressure Kids and Molly Bush.
Fully aware of the ins and outs of the fashionably-late Nashville, Tenn. crowd, the event was promoted around a vague 6:30 p.m. start time that didn’t differentiate doors open from the start of the actual show.
A small crowd began to trickle into the dimly-lit room at 7 p.m., pleasantly surprised it hadn’t missed anything. By 7:30 p.m., the relatively quiet room had reached a dull roar as the first act, folk singer-songwriter Molly Bush, hit the stage.
“And this one’s called ‘Letter Song Number Two.’ If you can think of a better name, let me know. I’ve given up on the title game, actually a long time ago,” said Bush, making the audience laugh.
As the opener, Bush captivated the audience with her strong, smoky voice and impressive dynamics for a solo acoustic artist. Her instrumentation and vocal variation helped emphasize the lyrical strength of her songs as she passionately sang each line.
A thunderous applause erupted at the end of Bush’s set, and The Pressure Kids began setting up for its seven-member band, which included its signature violin player and trombone player.
Alternative-rock band The Pressure Kids, led by frontman Nick Johnston, kicked up the energy for the night as the band members danced around stage during their energetic set. During the performance, The Pressure Kids invited two different guests, Julianna Zachariou and Rand Walter, to join the spirited jam session occurring on stage.
The Pressure Kids finished out its set to the second roaring applause of the night.
When folk-pop headliner Kel walked out onto to stage, she seemed overwhelmed by the amount of people who came out to support her and her friends during such a cold and busy time of the year.
“I had this horrible dream that not two people came, but this is great,” She said.
With her five-piece band, including a mandolin and a cello, Kel and her “musical soul-mate” Emma Harvey finished out the night with a compelling set that had a certain vulnerable edge. The emotion in the room was palpable.
Kel kept a few surprises for the end when she introduced a special appearance by her acclaimed producer Jon McLaughlin and a free download of her song “Chicago.”
As the evening closed, the audience took its time leaving. It was a fun night of music and friends nobody wanted to end.
Photo: Hadley Sintic