CMC Nashville Brings No Vacancy Tour to ATS

The thirty-or-so Dickinson students who came out to ATS last Tuesday night for the CMC Nashville concert certainly got more than they bargained for. The rapid transitions between indie pop, rap, and metal were enough to give the audience whiplash, but the performers were excellent all-around.  

A Tuesday night concert by a Christian-affiliated music program does not necessarily inspire excitement, but that all changed when the opening act, a rap trio composed of Dondrae Hewitt, Drake Catlin, and Zak Ralston, came out firing. Complete with great production value and clever bars, they combined high energy – Ralston particularly enjoyed his spinning kicks off the stage – and a catchy hook to set the mood for the evening.  

The barrage of talent didn’t end there though. In an abrupt change of tone, but not in quality, John Kappler came through with unbelievable vocals, hitting notes that Jeremy Zucker, the most recent pop star we’ve seen in ATS, couldn’t dream of.  

The vibe shifted dramatically when Catlin came back, not with a rap song, but with an enthralling metal performance. He had the complete and total attention of the crowd as he screamed his way through yet another original song that left ATS with ringing ears and wide eyes.  

But even the more conventional pop-style performances took us aback with their poise and fluidity. Lauren Kilcup’s “Pretty Boy” is still stuck in my head and her stage presence and obvious chemistry with the other performers really made it pop.  

Breece St. Clair followed with a captivating song that seemed like it would be right at home in “Tthe Addams Family” or atop the Billboard Charts. As an aside, she and Hewitt have a collaboration out, “Cotton Candy Monster,” that marries her emo pop sound with his undeniable flow, and it really works. 

The musicians in the background and the technical team deserve abundant credit too. Justin Sanchez on the drums, Jon Michael on the guitar, Sydnee Ross on the bass and Leah Sawyer on the guitar and violin killed it, switching between genres in what seemed like milliseconds.  

Meanwhile, the CMC students working on the production created a very professional feeling to the concert, accompanying each performance with lighting, video boards, and the works. Not only were the transitions between sets seamless, but the last one included a brief Yo-yYo show that really added to the ambience of the performance. 

We could have done without the intermittent breaks where CMC reps plugged the program, but messages from their marketing team were the only price we paid for admission, so I didn’t mind too much. Plus, some folks got free t-shirts at the door or caught them in the stands!  

While it’s unlikely that CMC will get many Dickinson recruits for their 15-week program in Nashville, they left an impression on their audience. I don’t think any of us would be surprised to see their songs blow up on TikTok soon. At the very least, they certainly got a few songs stuck in my head (“he’s a pretty boy and he does pretty things…”).  

Of course, a shoutout is due to WDCV, and Jordyn Case ’25, who set up the free concert. It wasn’t how I thought my Tuesday night would go, but I’m not mad about it!