It’s hard not to marvel at Luke Bryan and his team’s skill for uncanny precision. On Monday, his “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” became his 21st Number One on the Country Airplay chart and, though it was obviously weeks in the making, Bryan also celebrated the opening of his new Nashville bar, Luke’s 32 Bridge Food and Drink, with a giant, free street concert in the middle of lower Broadway.
32 Bridge, the latest and possibly largest of the recent “bro bar” trend, now occupies a former bank building on the corner of 3rd Avenue South and Broadway — a space that was most recently a tattoo parlor. Inside, it’s a monument to all things Luke Bryan — or, at least, the world as it looks through his eyes.
On the ground floor, there’s a sports bar / performance space, with an imposing wall of television screens on one side and a stage opposite that where the musicians place an inordinate amount of faith in structural engineering as an actual, literal truck dangles above their heads, suspended by chains. Up the labyrinth of stairs, there are dance floors with DJ booths, a giant neon soccer ball, and the words “Crash My Party” in massive lights, along with sprawling patios looking north and east. Also, there is sushi, because why not?
But a significant portion of the 30,000 people who turned up for the event weren’t inside 32 Bridge, nor neighboring vanity bars bearing the names of Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton or Dierks Bentley. They gathered in the middle of Broadway, closed to traffic below 4th Avenue South, to watch the show. Openers included DJ Rock, Chelsea Field and Jon Langston, who yesterday was announced as the newest signee to Universal Music Group Nashville under Luke Bryan’s newly launched 32 Bridge Entertainment imprint (uncanny precision!). His first single, “When It Comes to Loving You,” is out now.
Bryan, of course, was the primary reason the downtown bars weren’t brimming at capacity. The Georgia native, who’s played several stadiums this summer —including doubleheaders at Fenway Park and Wrigley Field — did his best to present his energetic live show in an environment that was not designed for such, with poor sightlines and obstacles obscuring the view of the stage for those who didn’t show up early and get a spot right down front.
It was the usual cavalcade of hits and crowd-pleasing platitudes from Bryan. “The home of country music — how are y’all feelin’? Y’all drinkin’ cold beer?” he implored, before “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day.” His quick, 90-minute set flitted from party jams like “I Don’t Want This Night to End” and “This Is How We Roll” to his more moody offerings “Light It Up” and “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” And, because it was Monday night in Nashville, some of his friends were home: Cole Swindell showed up to sing his own hit “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” and then cover Tim McGraw’s “Where the Green Grass Grows” with Bryan. Bryan also brought out singer-songwriter Ryan Hurd, co-writer of “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” to share the stage with him, acknowledging the creative contributions of the town’s songwriting community.
It was a gregarious display of friendship and support on both counts, but in the midst of Luke Bryan’s wall-to-wall Monday takeover, there wasn’t much doubt who owned the day.