As I walked toward Market Square tonight, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this is probably the last Sundown in the City – at least in its current form. I’ll be honest: that makes me sad. I’ve enjoyed many wonderful Thursday evenings at Sundown with my daughter, with my friends and by myself. I haven’t loved the music every time. I haven’t loved the crowd every time, but it was always interesting, and often magical.
The first thing I wanted to check out tonight was the situation in Krutch Park. The way it has been described in some local forums, one might expect to find an ocean of drunken teenagers laughing in the face of the helpless KPD. Au Contraire. There were several hundred teenagers there, and granted their language could have been nicer, some of them might have chosen to wear more clothes and certainly the dozens or more who were smoking could make better choices, but mostly they were just teenagers doing what teenagers do best: hanging out, laughing, gossiping and generally having a good time.
Just to be sure they were safe and well behaved, the KPD seemed to be represented every few feet. There were also evangelists present to ensure the safety of their souls.
One seemed to be preaching his way through the ten commandments. Another talked quietly to an assembled group while his friend handed out “What If” cards which ended with the statement, “Every second two people die. What if this is your second?” Not exactly a sentiment likely to help people get their groove on.
As I moved toward the stage, there were more older people.
If anything, I would say tonight’s crowd skewed toward college aged and then also toward late thirties/early forties bikers. I’ve wondered for years what kinds of jobs some of the people at these shows have. Given the full body tattoos and bizarre piercings, it’s just hard to picture them in an office. They can’t all work in a tattoo parlor. During the show, a thirty-something lady near me decided this would be the perfect occasion to remove her shirt.
Later she convinced a friend to join her and dirty dance. I’ve been to hundreds of concerts and I have never seen anything like this. The crowd response was mixed. Lots of laughter and encouragement finally gave way to a sort of pity when a woman near me said, “This is when she needs a friend.” She had about eight empty beer cups stacked together and her partner (husband?) was taking pictures. For the crowd who bashes the teenagers, it should be noted that at least they kept their clothes on. I also smelled pot once, but there were no teenagers nearby. Is it conceivable to have this event, but limit the beer? I’m just asking.
The Drive-by Truckers were very good. I’ve heard of them for years, but I’ve never heard them. I expected them to be hokey for some reason and that wasn’t the case at all. While some of it seemed a bit juvenile, much of it was simply melodically delicious rock and roll. You have to love multiple Les Paul guitars on stage. I recommend them.
After the show, the crowd didn’t disperse. One problem was the after-concert music that usually signals the fact that the band isn’t coming back, started, then stopped, giving the crowd the idea that they might return. This led to some testiness. I wandered the perimeter of the square and talked to several policemen who said it had been a good night, though one said, “The night is young.” In fact, there were hundreds of people who seemed in no hurry to leave and I imagine as a policeman, I would just as soon everyone go home at that point.
So was this the last in an historical run of concerts for Knoxville? Will the sun ever set again? We’ll have to wait for that answer, but for many of us, the memories will linger even if the music ends.