NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Layer your camis, pull that skirt over your bootleg jeans and secure that Bump-It in your hair: the 2000s are coming back in a big way later this month, courtesy of a TikTok star.
Rod Thill, better known by his TikTok handle @rod (@justme.rod on Instagram), will host a night of Millennial nostalgia in East Nashville Saturday, Feb. 25 with Top 8.
The idea for the event came from a TikTok Thill made a year ago, he told News 2.
“I made a TikTok a year and a half ago saying I wanted to create a nightclub called Top 8, where it’s only music from 2003 to 2010—you know, the MySpace heyday,” he said.
📧 Have breaking come to you: Subscribe to News 2 email alerts →
The doors would open at 6 p.m. “so everyone can still get to bed at a reasonable hour” and “Pedialyte is given at the door.”
“Thursday is emo night. Low rise jeans will not be allowed on premises,” the original video caption reads.
Thill has curated a significant social media following being a relatable Millennial—sharing how 30-somethings cope with everyday anxiety about life, work, and relationships through iced coffee swirls and playing the music they enjoyed in middle school. He deals heavily in nostalgia, which many Millennials enjoy, as it harkens back to a simpler time in life—a time without deadlines, conference calls, and rent payments. He has 1.6 million followers on TikTok alone and another 940,000 on Instagram.
But the idea of Top 8 wasn’t originally something he thought could happen.
“Obviously, it was just a quick post that I made,” he said. “It wasn’t anything legit.”
However, when he brought on his management team, they pitched the idea of making Top 8 a reality.
“One of their selling points to bring me on was, ‘We can make this happen,’” he said. “I didn’t even think that could be a thing!”
Since then, Thill has held two different Top 8 nights: one in Chicago, where he currently lives, and another in Atlanta. Nashville’s Top 8 will be the third in a series of five.
“We started in Chicago; it was so much fun,” he said. “We just did Atlanta, and now we’re doing Nashville, New York and D.C. within the next three months.”
While Thill’s original TikTok posited to run the club starting at 6 p.m., realistic time and labor constraints pushed the start time for Top 8 Nashville to 9 p.m. This, he told News 2, is one aspect of the original TikTok they couldn’t get moved, but it was for a good reason.
“It actually has a lot to do with employee hours and making sure employees are working healthy hours,” he said. “We really tried, but the second I heard, ‘Our bartenders do need to work fair hours,’ I said, ‘Say less.’ A lot of the people who are working at the venue, this isn’t their first job, so they need to balance it, and they rely on these specific hours per week.”
When it came to choosing the cities for the Top 8 nights, Thill said it mostly came down to the original video.
| READ MORE | Latest headlines from Nashville and Davidson County
“I was just kind of going off feedback from that original TikTok,” he said. “I look at my audience and where it is.”
Each city’s Top 8 has had locally-specific themes, specifically when it comes to the music played. At the Atlanta stop, Thill said, the DJ, who was local, opted for more hip-hop of the era, as that was what the majority of people who attended wanted to hear. For Nashville, Thill imagines there will be a more country vibe to keep with the local flavor.
“It’s fun; we can make some themes around it,” he said. “The Nashville one, to be honest, it’s going to have the mix of everything: it’s going to have pop punk, Top 40 from the time, pop, some light EDM because it wasn’t that big yet; I don’t do a ton of country, but I see Nashville having a little bit more of a country influence.”
The fashion choices also serve as a prime opportunity for more nostalgic fun. While not required by any means, Thill said he’s seen attendees dressed in their early-2000s-best from Bump-Its in the hair, multiple layered Polo shirts and camis, cargo pants, velour track suits and more.
“Someone came dressed as Kim Possible,” he said. “People just have fun with it.”
The name of the game, ultimately, is nostalgia, which Thill said also holds a therapeutic purpose for him. He received counseling advice that had him remember simpler, less anxious times in his life whenever he started feeling anxiety and depression creep in. That advice is what prompted him to start making “throwback” playlists of all his favorite music from when he was younger.
“What would make me feel good was music,” he said, noting he even found an old iPod and formed his playlists from the device onto his Spotify account.
“Now, I make content and have a following from the music that I escaped to,” he added. “I tell people this night’s kind of like therapy. We’re playing songs people forgot about. We’re playing songs that people used as an escape in high school.”
And if the nostalgia wasn’t enough of a selling point, Thill said a portion of the proceeds will also be donated to a local charity in order to give back to the community.
“The cost isn’t that much more than a cover charge, and some of the proceeds I make sure to give back to local charities,” he said.
At each stop of the tour, Thill has worked with local residents to donate to a nonprofit organization that does charitable work in each city. In Chicago, for example, proceeds were donated to an organization that provides warm coats for those experiencing homelessness. In Atlanta, an environmental group was selected as the donation recipient. Which Nashville charity will receive the donation this month has yet to be determined, but Thill said he is working to gather information and research different organizations with the help of local Nashvillians.
Tickets are still on sale for the event, which will be held at Eastside Bowl. Doors open at 9 p.m. For more details, click HERE.