NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — To see how far we've come with Nashville's New Year's Eve celebrations, we have to look at the beginning. A lot's changed over a decade.
“I was pretty much born and raised rock n’ roll," said drummer Greg Thiel, speaking just before taking the stage at downtown Nashville's Whiskey Bent Saloon. "I’m a rock n’ roller.”
Thiel said there's nothing quite like looking out from the stage and seeing a crowd feeling the music.
“You can feel the energy and you sort of feed off that, go with that,” he said.
So, what is that crowd energy like playing Nashville on New Year’s Eve? Thiel said over the years, New Year’s Eve has been a lot of things.
Remember the guitar drop? The last night of 2008, believe it or not, city officials were concerned about below average hotel bookings, and businesses believed they had more party hats than people to wear them.
The last night of 2009 was a change, the first year of the Nashville New Year’s Eve show.
“2010 was probably my first New Years down on Broadway," Thiel remembered. “It wasn’t insane. Every year it got bigger and bigger and not just small amounts. I mean, every year it was big.”
Thiel was around when the crowds got too big to be held by just Broadway and a stage was set up at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Just how much of a change have we seen in just a few years? According to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp, in 2009, Nashville’s New Years Eve attendance was 15,000 people, roughly the population of Dickson. By 2019, that attendance had grown to 200,000, roughly the population of Knoxville.
What sort of attendance numbers will we see on this last night of 2021? Whatever it is, Thiel's here and ready for it.
“Brace yourself," he smiled. "Hold on. It's going to be a massive event."