The Cadillac Three Rock Sold-Out Headlining Show at the Ryman

The Cadillac Three accomplished a lifelong dream on Thursday evening (Aug. 31) when they headlined the famed Ryman Auditorium for the very first time. The sold-out concert showcased the trio’s power as headliners as they transported the esteemed Mother Church into a sweaty rock club in the best way.

Arena anthems with sing-along choruses, jaw-dropping instrumental jams and the group’s unyielding energy were present throughout their 20-plus-song set where the audience sang along on every track. They kicked things off with impressive guitar licks and Jaren Johnston’s captivating vocals on “Bury Me In My Boots” before segueing into the foot-stomping “Slide.” Ever the showman, Johnston would frequently hop up on the speakers as he raised his arms in the air, conducting the crowd to sing a little bit louder and they always did.

Born and raised in Music City, the country rockers continually shared their gratitude for those who came out to watch their two-hour set and tried their best not to get too emotional.

The Cadillac Three; Photo Credit: Jeremy Polzel for Big Machine Records

The Cadillac Three; Photo Credit: Jeremy Polzel for Big Machine Records

“I’m trying not to talk because, man, this is tough,” frontman Johnston said six songs into their set. “Thank y’all so much for coming out tonight. I’m not crying until we get to the part in the set where it’s time to cry. We’re all gonna cry together for that. We’re all born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. This is the happiest the three long hairs have ever been.”

He wasn’t lying as Johnston, lap steel player Kelby Ray and drummer Neil Mason were all smiles throughout their headlining set. During the night they frequently called out to family, friends and fellow artists and songwriters in the crowd, dedicating “Graffiti” to the latter. Later, Johnston explained that all three members went to high school together two doors down from the Ryman. “Can you imagine what this feels like tonight?” he marveled.

The Cadillac Three’s energy never wavered and their new material off latest album Legacy got as much cheers from the audience as their earlier work, including the first song they ever released as TC3 called “Whiskey Soaked Redemption.” Newer songs, like the anthemic, arena-ready “American Slang” and swagger-filled “Cadillacin’” demonstrated their strength as headliners while the beautiful “Runnin’ Red Lights,” assisted by Hannah Nasher on harmonies, and striking “White Lightning,” an ode to Johnston’s wife, shared their softer and more vulnerable side.

The Cadillac Three; Photo Credit: Jeremy Polzel for Big Machine Records

The Cadillac Three; Photo Credit: Jeremy Polzel for Big Machine Records

At one point in the evening, Johnston referred to TC3 as being the “most badass band in country music” and he wouldn’t be wrong. The band’s ability to segue from hard rocking numbers full of gritty guitar flair like “Peace, Love & Dixie” and barnburner “Party Like You,” to the soulful and heartfelt “White Lightning” so effortlessly is an impressive feat. At one moment the audience held their beers high in the air and the next a couple could be found slow dancing in the church pews — definitely not your average country show.

Additional highlights included an energetic performance of Jake Owen’s “Days of Gold,” which Johnston co-wrote with bandmate Mason, and the timeless “Legacy,” which Johnston dedicated to Mason’s mother. As the band’s time on stage at the Ryman came to a close with the powerful ode to their roots, “The South,” one thing was certain: Nashville is sure lucky to call the Cadillac Three their own.