Lightning struck twice at the Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville last week

If I’m being completely honest with anyone reading this article, my personal experience with pop music is extremely limited. Out of all the music genres I have covered during my 9 years as a journalist, pop is probably the one I have had the least experience with. It’s not that I don’t like the genre; I am a big Lady Gaga fan, and I would probably follow Ke$ha off a cliff if she asked me. However, I tend to let the other journalists in Top Shelf have first dibs on most shows like that. That was until I heard my girlfriend singing the lyrics to Ava Max’s song “Kings & Queens.” One day, I realized I couldn’t get “to all of the queens who are fighting alone, baby you’re not dancing on your own” out of my head. Ava’s lyrics echoed in my mind repeatedly, and it didn’t become the type of thing I grew sick of hearing. Instead, it motivated me to deep dive into her entire catalog, thus setting off a series of events that led me to attend her very first headlining tour.

It’s often been said that “lightning never strikes the same place twice,” but on Monday night at one of Nashville’s best music venues, Brooklyn Bowl, it most definitely struck twice.

Instead of a natural occurrence of electrical discharge, this lightning came in the form of two out-of-this-world musical performances. The first strike was the LA-based rock band The Scarlet Opera, and from the very first notes of their song “Riot,” I knew this was an exceptionally special band. With vocal prowess comparable to Freddie Mercury, lead singer Luka Balzulka belted out notes that most singers only dream of hitting. They quite literally took a cold audience, many of whom had no idea who they were, and had them jumping up and down within seconds. A fan behind me screamed out, “What the hell is going on?!” I turned around to see a look of excitement that is rarely seen at shows these days. Captivating and theatrical, The Scarlet Opera is definitely a band to keep an eye on.

It was truly shocking for me to discover that Ava Max was on her very first headlining tour, considering she has millions of fans worldwide, and her stream count is skyrocketing faster than the US debt calculator. As the lights dimmed the audience exploded with anticipation, and I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. In the darkness you could see her lie down on the stage and a spotlight began shining down on her alone. The energy before she even hit her first note was out of this world and you could barely even hear the music start as the first beats of “Diamonds & Dancefloors” kicked in. It was full throttle from that point on with her team of dancers by her side she seemed to float from one side of the stage to another. All while performing in front of a giant diamond which was the centerpiece of a top notch stage production. In between songs she repeatedly thanked her fans for showing her such love and support and even joked a few times about how she could really get used to touring. It would become almost a running joke during the show but you could really tell she felt genuinely overwhelmed by the energy of her audience. The musical highlights for me were the songs “Who’s Laughing Now”, “Cold as Ice” and of course her most well known hit “Sweet but Psycho”.

Coming into this show from a rather ignorant standpoint it’s not really for me to comment on the genre at large but it is my opinion that Ava Max has to be one of the greatest pop stars of our current generation. She has all the qualities of a legendary artist and I truly cannot wait to see what she does with the rest of her career.

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