Despite a day full of downpours and cloudy skies, this year's maiden Live on the Green concert went down with little or no hitches Thursday night. The weather was cool and breezy, and despite the preseason Titans game bumping just next door, parking wasn’t so bad either. Folks had shown up in droves and were packing the Green from end to end.
That doesn’t mean we won’t still blame downtown’s traffic predicament for the reason we missed opener Gin Wigmore. In fact, follow-up act ZZ Ward was just getting warmed up by the time we sidled up to the stage. While the name was unfamiliar to The Spin, we couldn’t help but hope ex-Sabbath drummer Bill Ward was now sitting in with ZZ Top, or that maybe someone was doing bluesy renditions of M. Ward songs. Alas, neither guess proved to be true — save for the bluesy part. ZZ Ward is actually the name of a female singer-songwriter who jams on a bluesy tip similar to that of contemporaries like Grace Potter or Joss Stone. It’s not the kind of music The Spin writes particularly bad or good things about. Rather, it’s more a prime candidate for “something we can all agree on” in a car ride with our parents. Ward’s voice was just as polished as her band’s chops, and together they forged what was was a fairly neutral, family-friendly, fail-safe blend of pop, rock and R&B.
Our parents would not, however, abide more than a jam or two from frenzied dance-punk advocates Matt & Kim. Marching out to an unrecognized party jam and a roaring applause, the duo manned their keyboard and drum set and let the crowd-pleasing begin. Hits like “It’s Alright,” “Let’s Go” and set-closer “Daylight” were played amid a spectacle of carefully organized chaos. With the help of a few backing tracks, the two often leaped into party faves like Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It.” Matt & Kim frequently refused to be confined to the seats behind their instruments, jumping atop their gear and venturing to the front of the stage to toss out confetti and T-shirts — there was even one instance wherein drummer Kim Schifino walked atop the crowd for several minutes of what the kids call “twerking.” At one point, not-yet-inflated balloons were distributed to the crowd, who then blew them up and launched them into the air within the next 10 seconds of the song. How’s that for crowd-sourced labor/participation?
Always seemingly ecstatic and ever-humble, the two gushed over the audience on multiple occasions, tiny gestures that only make their adoring fan base all the more devoted. Certainly not bad for a free show.