Ben Rector at 12th and Porter
- Article by: Matt Dodson, Photos by: Ben Rector
- Posted: 02/20/2011
A couple weeks ago, I was one of literally hundreds who packed 12th and Porter to see Nashville’s adopted sons Ben Rector and Steve Moakler, along with a special guest appearance.
More than half an hour before the show even kicked off, elbowroom was limited and the crowd buzzed with energy for this show that had sold out days before in presale, a rare occurrence for this venue. Don’t expect any live pictures this time; I was right in the middle of this pack.
Steve Moakler kicked off the show with his spot-on vocals, getting the audience into the game early with sing-alongs and shout-outs to the hometown crowd. Ben Rector joined him on stage for several songs, lending his signature vocals and piano.
Moakler’s set was lively, and the audience really seemed to dig it. By the time he introduced Rector, the stage had been perfectly set, and the predominantly college-girl crowd went berserk. High-pitched squeals rung out as the headliner took the stage. He responded to the shrill acclaim, wasting no time kicking off his energetic set with dance-worthy songs like “The Beat.”
In typical Rector fashion, he took topic requests for his always-improvised third verse of “Loving You Is Easy,” and was buffeted by waves of zany ideas. Easily the loudest: Matt Wertz in the back of the crowd shouting, “Justin Bieber!” Others quickly joined in the chant, and Rector was left to stick to his word and concoct a few lines about how “loving Bieber is easy.”
In the middle of his set, he gave the band a break, bringing Moakler back on stage for some bluegrassy duets. Wertz joined them in a guest appearance for one song as well. (If only I could see Mat Kearney, I will have seen all five of my favorite male Nashville singer-songwriters in two weeks).
Toward the end of this stripped-down section of the show, Rector stepped aside to let Moakler play an original country song. Though Moakler led with the caveat that he felt his song didn’t really fit the set, Rector had convinced him to play it at an Alabama show the previous week, and the reaction had been overwhelming. Hence, Moakler somewhat begrudgingly agreed to play it again.
I have to say, I’ve grown up in the world of country music songwriting for 21 years. I’m the son of a songwriter myself, and I can honestly say that Moakler’s song, “This Ain’t Rock and Roll,” is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. And of course, the college girls agreed, giving the song the biggest ovation of the night apart from the post-encore applause for Rector.
These guys are a wonderful example of artists who have moved to Nashville and created and filled their own niches. They have first-rate talent, and if the massive crowd at 12 and Porter on Saturday night was any indication, Nashville is eager to claim them as its own.
Ben Rector - Free Falling