FirstBank Amphitheater opens with all-star benefit concert led by Florida Georgia Line where Chris Tomlin joins for "Thank You Lord" with Thomas Rhett.
Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Maren Morris and a handful more christened the open-aired space Tuesday night in rural Williamson County for "Together: Feeding Nashville," a concert aimed at raising funds to combat food insecurity.
Ticket proceeds benefited Feeding Nashville, a nonprofit launched by Taylin Lewan, wife of Tennessee Titans tackle Taylor Lewan, and Hayley Hubbard, wife of Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard, to aid struggling families affected by the 2020 tornadoes and COVID-19 pandemic. The program utilized local chefs impacted by shuttered dining rooms to cook free, healthy food options for those in need.
"It feels so good to be here tonight," Tyler Hubbard said at the top of the show. "What a special night for a special cause in a special town."
And Tuesday gave concertgoers a first look inside FirstBank Ampitheater, the latest Live Nation venue expansion in Middle Tennessee. Located inside the expansive 138-acre Graystone Quarry in Thompson's Station, stage and seating comes situated between a landscape of rock, trees and chirping cicadas far removed from the bustling downtown atmosphere of its sister venue, Ascend Amphitheater.
Ticketholders take a small hike from general admission parking through the quarry grounds, where the amphitheater can be found tucked between surrounding cliffs. Artists perform to tiered chair and bench seating that extends nearly to the rock surrounding the venue.
How's the view? Here's how Morris explained it.
"This is such an amazing lineup, and such a beautiful venue," Morris said from the stage. "I feel like I'm at Red Rocks in my backyard. It's just stunning."
Tuesday night played like a country music mixtape come to life, with Florida Georgia Line stepping in as de-facto DJ.
The hitmaking duo took the stage — following an ace acoustic set from up-and-comer Lily Rose — to 2020's "I Love My Country" before kicking into fan-favorite "This Is How We Roll" and inviting Russell Dickerson on stage for a collaboration of "It's About Time."
For Dickerson and others, the duo typically played a few songs before giving the stage — and their road band — over to the rotating cast of entertainers. Coming up:Jonas Brothers, Greta Van Fleet set for debut season at FirstBank Amphitheater in Thompson's StationAnd appearances sometimes came with a one-off collaboration, like Florida Georgia Line bringing Thomas Rhett on stage to sing 2013 single "Round Here," which the latter co-wrote.
But opening a new venue didn't come without setbacks, either. SiriusXM host and "Together: Feeding Nashville" emcee Storme Warren announced early in the night that the show would be delayed briefly due to sluggish traffic that slowed arrivals for some — including artists due to appear. Most faced similar traffic setbacks when leaving the show, and venue organizers said via Instagram Tuesday they hope to improve the process for future concerts. "Working to get better each time," the venue posted Tuesday to Instagram after delaying the show for traffic. "Please be patient."
As for that mixtape? It included Rhett serenading audiences to "Die A Happy Man" and Morris leading a singalong to her breakout single — and undeniable live anthem — "My Church."
Dickerson delivered his chart-topper "Love You Like I Used To" and gave a shout-out to his hometown crowd with new song "Home Sweet." Rhett gave audiences a taste of his new album "Country Again: Side A" with the title track following by lead single "What's Your Country Song"; Morris invited husband Ryan Hurd on stage for the couple's 2020 duet, "Chasing After You" (Lauren Alaina was also slated to appear but bowed out due to "an unexpected personal matter," per her Instagram). "It's so good to see a crowd again," Morris said. "The last time I played any music in Nashville, I think I was nine months pregnant. This is quite a shift. It's been a year."
A surprise finale
Plenty of surprise guests — from famed worship singer Chris Tomlin (for "Thank You Lord" with Rhett and FGL) to frequent Florida Georgia Line collaborator Chase Rice ("Drinkin' Beer. Talkin' God. Amen." with FGL) — took the stage Tuesday night, but no earned a reaction from the audience quite like an encore appearance from "Country Grammar" rapper Nelly.
Dickerson, country newcomer Breland, "The Git Up" singer Blanco Brown and others joined Nelly and Florida Georgia Line for a spirited rendition of the the host band's 2012 smash hit "Cruise" that closed the night.
"We just thought why don't we bring everybody that's backstage out on this stage and let's do one big song together," Tyler Hubbard said, adding: "Y'all ready to do something crazy, or what?"