‘I just love them’ Train
By Steve Wildsmith | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
You’d have thought everyone in attendance at the 2012 Foothills Fall Festival on Saturday night was a professional hobo, the way they all hopped a Train.
The pop-rock band roared into Blount County on the strength of hits old and new to cap the second day of Maryville’s biggest annual event, and while the crowd wasn’t as big as in years past, those on hand more than made up for it with unbridled enthusiasm.
For the teenage girl demographic, a bigger band couldn’t have been booked. Before the band took the stage, the gates around the festival’s reserved seating was packed 10 people deep with fans desperate to get as close as they could to the night’s main attraction.
McKenzie Brook of Seymour High School was at her first Train concert, eager to hear Train play the hit that first made it famous, “Drops of Jupiter.”
“I just love everything about them,” she said. “I’ve loved them for a long time now. Oh my God. I’ve got to get closer!”
Few bands that have performed at the festival have been as interactive with the crowds as those performers on Saturday’s bill. “American Idol” season 10 runner-up Lauren Alaina spent almost an hour at the backstage barricade near the food court area, signing autographs and posing for pictures (including one on a Maryville Police Department motorcycle, wearing the officer’s helmet). Pop star Andy Grammer, who went on right before Train, went from the stage to the same barricade, walking up and down the line as one wave of fans replaced the next to get his signature and a hug.
For their part, the three men in Train made their show more interactive than any other band in Foothills Fall Festival. For the song “Mermaid,” singer Pat Monahan brought a dozen female fans to the stage and instructed them to dance. To another, he autographed one of the decorative pumpkins along the front of the stage and gave it; for the new single “Bruises,” he selected one lucky female fan with whom to perform a duet.
The more Monahan bantered and interacted with the crowd, the louder fans got. At one point, he borrowed a video camera from one of the stagehands shooting footage for the big screens ringing the stage and turned the lens on the crowd.
“Look at you people! You people are freakish! I’m so glad there’s a gate holding you back!” he shouted.
It was all in good fun, however; Monahan and his bandmates had Maryville eating out of the palms of their hands. When he asked them to sing refrains on songs like “Save Me San Francisco,” they happily obliged; when he mentioned Maryville by name, they erupted in screams and cheers.
“I just love them! I love their music, and they’re such great musicians,” said Amy Bain of Knoxville, in attendance with friend Taylor Webb.
“They’re my favorite band; I got tickets right after they went on sale,” added Webb, who works for Clayton Homes.
Autumn Putnam, who moved to Maryville from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., two months ago, was joined at the festival by friends and family from her former city of residence; Keith Dalton, a Maryville resident, was at the festival for the first time with Joanna Hodge.
“I like all of their songs because they have so many different styles,” said Dalton, who was encouraged to attend for the first time because of Train.
Jennifer Shown of Knoxville arrived at Jack Greene Park around 8:30 a.m., even though the gates didn’t open until noon, to make sure she and her family obtained good seats for Train. She dressed for the morning cool and the afternoon warmth, layering up with sweatpants and a hoodie, and could barely contain her excitement.
“The morning tickets went on sale, I went on my lunch break and drove to downtown Maryville to buy tickets,” she said.
Her mother, Jean Shown, came for her third Foothills Fall Festival; while not the Train fanatic her daughter is, she said she wouldn’t miss the three-day event, regardless of the lineup.
“It’s just a great atmosphere, friendly people and a great variety of music for everyone,” she said. “It’s not just strictly country or pop. And it’s surprising that it’s right here in our backyard.”
Kim Luttrell of Knoxville grew up in Maryville, and when asked what act she came to see on Saturday could only chuckle.
“I have teen girls; are you kidding me?” she said. “I like their music, though probably not as much as these girls who will be screaming in my ear when Train plays.”
Perhaps the most heart-warming moment of the night came before the band’s last song — the aforementioned “Drops of Jupiter.” Producing a guitar autographed by members of the band, Monahan selected a boy pushed up against the barricade by the surging crowd. Presenting him with a guitar autographed by the band, Monahan said his resilience and determination to enjoy the show earned him the band’s respect.
“I hope you learn how to play that, and you get in a band, and you come out and inspire all of these people like you did us tonight,” Monahan said.