On Perfect Day
For A Concert
BY SARAH GREGORY
Enthusiastic fans came from as far away as New York State, Iowa, Illinois, and Ohio, but the hometown contingent from Greeneville and Greene County made up the bulk of a crowd Saturday that filled most of a long block of North Main Street for The Band Perry's album release party, concert, and autograph session.
Weather for the 6 p.m. show was nearly perfect. Light cloud cover and temperatures in the upper 50's and lower 60's throughout the day were a welcome change after a chilly, rainy week.
Rain held off until almost midnight, two hours after the autograph session ended at 10 p.m.
Some fans began gathering near the stage as early as 8 a.m. Saturday morning. As the day progressed and afternoon temperatures began to rise, the crowd quickly grew.
By the time the Perrys took the stage, the dense, shoulder-to-shoulder crowd filled the block of North Main Street from the stage, near the Greene County Election Commission office, to Church Street.
Hundreds of other concert-goers spaced themselves out a bit further around the intersection of Main and Depot streets and into the block of South Main between Depot and Summer streets, taking advantage of a second battery of speakers and large, stadium-type screens that displayed video of the concert as it was happening.
Capt. Mike Crum of the Greeneville Police Department, who was the incident commander, estimated attendance at 25,000-plus.
A SMILING CROWD
Spirits seemed to run high and innumerable smiling faces -- young and old -- were observed throughout the downtown audience.
Concert-goers responded to Kimberly, Reid, and Neil Perry's stage entrance with thunderous applause, yells, and whistles.
The Perrys themselves were highly energetic, displaying wide grins and making numerous expressions of love for the town and citizens of Greeneville.
Fan-made signs with supportive messages -- such as "Welcome Home" were scattered throughout the crowd, which was clearly comprised of true fans of The Band Perry.
Sing-a-longs were boisterous and frequent; applause was continuous; and shouts and cheers were -- much like the band's super-sized sound system -- booming.
The Perry siblings -- with their backing band members Andy Davis, Jason Fitz, Boone Dawghdrill, and Jeb Holmes -- opened the show at 6:22 p.m. with a new single, called "DONE."
"You Lie,"a single from the group's self-titled first album followed.
A new song from Pioneer called "Never Mine Nevermind" -- an upbeat rock-inspired tune with no shortage of electric guitar parts, co-written by the band and fellow country music star Brad Paisley -- was the third offering.
The concert continued with a mix of songs from both the first album and Pioneer, as well as cover versions of 1970's rock band Queen's hit "Fat Bottomed Girls" and a modified version of the Dolly Parton-penned and Whitney Houston classic, "I Will Always Love You."
"I Will Always Love You" began with Kimberly Perry a capella with strong, soaring vocals and slight modifications, such as a name-drop in the form of "I Will Always Love Greeneville," to the delight of the crowd.
After a few more tunes, The Band Perry wrapped up their show with two songs from Pioneer -- "Night Gone Wasted" and the album's first single, "Better Dig Two," which hit the number one spot on Billboard's country chart.
The song, clearly one of the crowd's favorites, had a strong beat and clever stage and lighting effects with smoke machines and changing stage lights.
A unique image of a skeleton's hand holding up two fingers flashed across the stadium screens, referencing the somewhat macabre nature of the song.
The song tells a story from the viewpoint of a wife who, essentially, tells a gravedigger he "better dig two" if her husband dies before she does.
A SPECIAL MOMENT
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the show came during a performance of the band's quadruple platinum hit, "If I Die Young."
As is customary during a live show, the band paused for a moment to allow the crowd to sing.
The crowd's rendition, however, was anything but customary.
When the Perry siblings and their backing band stopped, the crowd sang a verse word-for-word, note-for-note, perfectly.
The moment was enough to give one goosebumps, as it had a soft, earnest sound not unlike a children's choir.
The length of the sing-along far surpassed a normal concert sing-along moment, which generally lasts for just a short phrase or familiar repetitive portion of a chorus.
The Perrys themselves, on stage, seemed to be touched by the moment.
In fact, Neil Perry commented that, although the crowd may have felt like they were there to listen to The Band Perry, in fact, it was the other way around.
"We're here to listen to you," he said -- a comment that was an echo of an early quip by Kimberly Perry during an afternoon news conference in The General Morgan Inn.
GREENEVILLE: 'OUR HOME'
"Greeneville is our home," Kimberly Perry told newspaper, radio, and television journalists packed into a portion of a conference room in The General Morgan Inn.
"It's our serenity, it's our peace of mind," she said, adding that being back in the mountains of Greene County gives the group "an opportunity to think" after fast-paced days on the road.
As with their self-titled first album, released in 2010, the band wanted "Pioneer" to be heard and made available for purchase for the first time in Greeneville.
In 2010, the band performed a free concert in front of the Greene County Partnership's building on Academy St.
"We haven't played a show here since, partly because we were waiting for a moment like this," Reid Perry said during the news conference.
"We really wanted to celebrate that with our hometown of Greeneville because they have meant so much to us," he continued. "When you can come back and have a safe-haven here -- it's a very precious thing."
"We're big believers that really big things have come from sometimes small places," Kimberly Perry said.
"We're here today to say big events come from small places, we are a living example of that. That's the reason we wanted to do it on Main Street today," she added.
Soon after the concert ended, The Band Perry worked their way through a long, snaking line of fans waiting to have their new copies of "Pioneer" signed.
Just before the show ended, Kimberly Perry promised the crowd they would stay "all night if we have to" to sign a copy for anyone who wanted one.
And that they did.
Fans lined up from the stage on North Main St., turning the corner onto East Church St., and snaking back around, before being led, single file, through barricades for the signings.
Signing started at approximately 8:10 p.m. and lasted until right at 10 p.m.
Toward the end, the process had to be sped up, as rain threatened to move in.
Rain, however, continued to hold off until just a few minutes before midnight, allowing crews -- assisted by students from Tusculum College -- to safely remove electronic equipment from the stage.
Crews were able to remove most of the staging before rain began, although the stage's metal frame and scaffolding was still standing as it began.
Crews from the Greeneville Public Works Department worked until well after midnight to pick up trash and clean the streets ahead of Easter morning church services.
Public Works Director Brad Peters said crews would use leafblowers to gather cigarettes littering the ground.
Street sweepers and washers were also used to clean the area.
NOT MUCH LITTER
The Public Works Department provided numerous trash cans in easily accessible areas along the streets, and, as Peters pointed out, there was not much litter to be found on the streets.
Peters also noted that there was no real property damage in the area to speak of.
Some spots of grass saw some wear from being stood on for long periods, but, Peters said, there was "nothing that will cost any amount of money" to repair.
In all, the consensus from Greeneville officials, the Greene County Partnership, Public Works, and law enforcement was that the concert went very smoothly and was enjoyable for everyone.