If I do say so myself, I’m (still, relatively) tickled by the bumbling tie in of True Detective last week, but this week, I figure something outside the world of prestige television and premium channels is well within our best interest when it comes to writing about Live On the Green Week Two.
Instead, I think I’ll try and orient the focus of this week’s recap on the subject of staying power.
As far as concepts are concerned, staying power is pretty straightforward - whatever entity seems the most well equipped has the best shot sticking around. Or something to that point. You get it. Or at least, I assume you get it.
Think of Saturday Night Live. Many a sketch comedy show have come and gone, with some - SCTV, MadTV, In Living Color - having once stood at the precipice of usurping SNL, but ultimately falling short. Granted, each of those shows have produced stars that one might argue have seen higher returns for shorter sketch show runs.
When Jordan Peele, Jim Carrey, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Keegan Michael-Key, Jennifer Lopez, and a bunch of Wayans’ post-show career earnings are stacked up against former SNL cast members’ (damn those seven-year SNL contracts!), you might find yourself questioning why none of the non-SNL shows made it.
Simply put, it’s SNL’s staying power (and also, probably Lorne Michaels). SNL has always managed to seek out the best sketch show specific talent, and always seem to hone in on topical and zeitgeist interests stronger than their various competition. After 40+ decades of repeatedly doing so, such proving staying power is what makes you an entertainment cornerstone.
And so that leads us to the tie-in to Live On the Green. While I’m not necessarily saying Live On the Green is the “SNL of Nashville entertainment,” it has experienced an SNL-like journey relative to the Nashville free festival scene. Every year, it seems like a new free music festival pops up around town, some breaking through, if only for a moment - Nashville Dancin’ - some not at all, and others quietly making their case for eventual cornerstone status - Tomato Fest - and thus the free festival saturates and dries up with each and every subsequent year. That is, with the exception of Live On the Green, of course. Lightning 100 has achieved some form of early adopter status in that arena, and have managed to streamline it in such a manner (advertising!) that makes it the envy of not only Nashville free festival shows, but free city festivals in general. There are going to be flashy and loud new festivals that crop up every year, but Live On the Green is by far and away the most stayed and fundamentally sound there is.
Furthermore, the staying power translates directly to the acts the station books as well. Take the second week for example - Cold War Kids reflect the sort of quietly building spirit that Live On the Green experienced throughout it’s tenure. They were a scrappy band from California, battling to evade the christian rock band status that was inexplicably ascribed to them in their early days, eventually moving from indie club darlings all the way up to top tier festival headliners with the occasional commercial breakthrough.
Then there’s Car Seat Headrest, the nom de plume of wunderkind turned indie deity Will Toledo, who had a similar plodding along in recording eleven wholly independent records in the back of vans (namesake). He was urban legend at one point - the quiet whisper of the indieheads of Virginia - but now he’s taken to ravenous throngs of fans at concert series like Live On the Green, playing to his faithful disciples and the parents confused by his band name alike.
The verdict is out on local groups Colony House and repeat repeat*, but that’s simply because the time that works in tune with staying power lies ahead for both groups. But that’s what festivals like Live On the Green are for - bands to grow in front of large and willing audiences, an early chance at sharpening their chops. Cold War Kids had played before a few years back, and now they’re headlining, so who knows?
Granted, I can’t close this recap with a seamless re-application of the SNL meets Live On the Green comparison, as there’s really no sound way to tie the knot on it, especially because I couldn’t tell you what dollar amounts are for career earnings on artists and radio stations and all that, but that’s fine. Ultimately, Live On the Green - much like SNL - manages to remain steadfast in its ways and progressive all at the same, almost certainly for many years to come.
Unfortunately, I don't know if the same can be said for these really loose pop culture tie ins, but who knows? And who cares?