Having freedom and a little bit of income has done a world of good for my concert attendance record over the last couple years. Now it may be Tuesday afternoon, but my mind is still very much stuck on Saturday night in Troy, Ohio. I catch myself singing and swaying along to any song that pumped through our hearts that night.
This weekend, Billy Currington’s We Are Tonight Tour rolled through that west Ohio town, and I simply had to be there. I’ve always liked Billy, really liked opener Chase Rice, and I absolutely love Brett Eldredge. From West Lafayette, it’s about a three and a half hour drive, but I’d be lying to say I wouldn’t drive much, much further to see Brett. One of my good friends and future roommates tagged along, excited for her first Brett show. We arrived plenty early for the 8:00pm start time, ready to rock Hobart Arena.
Before anything happened on stage, we were lined up near the merch table with a couple dozen other people waiting to be led away by a guy from Brett’s team. Once again, I’d invested in VIP passes to go backstage and meet the rising superstar. It was right around 7:30 when we made our way to the back hallway of the arena and formed a mostly single-file line that slowly inched us to where we needed to be. Fifteen minutes later, it was our turn.
A couple of times before I approached him, very short looks of possible recognition flashed in Brett’s face when he looked up and saw me in line. We hugged hello, and I started in on what I needed to say before he could distract me again. When I mentioned having had met him six months prior, he nodded and smiled, seeming to make the connection. I was thrilled. Anyway, I complimented his writing as best I could without stumbling terribly over my words. Then I mentioned my own writing and dreams of moving to Nashville. He said I had to be all in if I was gonna have a shot, but to go for it if I was serious. I assured him I was. Then we took the most adorable picture of my life before one last hug and goodbye. Brett Eldredge, man of talent and source of my inspiration, never disappoints.
Still on a high from the meet and greet, we stumbled back to our seats and tweeted our gratitude to him while we waiting for the lights to go down. Even now, a full week later, I’m still not sure it wasn’t just a dream.
Back to the actual concert, to what I actually am claiming to review. Chase Rice was slotted as the 8:00pm opener, and I was actually more excited to see his set than I was for Billy’s. As many country fans know, Chase was one of the writers behind the Florida Georgia Line song “Cruise,” which blew up the radio last year. His latest song and EP of the same name, Ready, Set, Roll, has been huge with fans. Also, Chase was fresh off an announcement that he’d merged with Columbia Nashville, so there was plenty to be excited about on a Saturday night.
He kicked it all off with feel good songs about girls and drinking and everything else country fans are known to sing along to until our lungs give in. A few songs, such as “Look at My Truck” and “Jack Daniels and Jesus,” helped to get those in attendance a bit more familiar with Chase. I came in to the show a fan, and left thrilled with his energy and personality onstage.
A short break to change set was followed with Brett Eldredge’s band taking over with a light up drum fueling their intro. While many are familiar with Brett’s hot radio singles “Don’t Ya” and “Beat of the Music,” he started things with a song called “Can’t Behave,” something fans would only know from his Couch Sessions. His entire performance was top-notch, but I have to say the very best part had to be “One Mississippi” transitioning straight into “Mean to Me,” two of my favorite songs. He left stage having sent the crowd into screams and hollers that would make any artist smile.
Headliner Billy Currington refused to let that energy die down. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems easy to forget just how many hit songs Billy has had over his career. He played one after another, rocking a full house and raising every beer and cell phone in reach. From the anthem “Pretty Good at Drinking Beer” to the beautiful classic, “Must Be Doin’ Something Right,” everyone was singing and dancing and letting go for the night. After a faux departure from set, Billy and band returned with covers that completely won over any skeptics left, and it wasn’t even limited to country. The man sang “Blurred Lines” at a country show in Ohio, and people were jamming. But my favorite cover? A return of Chase and Brett to team up on Garth Brooks’ classic, “Friends in Low Places.”
In all, I’d certainly hit this tour again. The energy was great, the music was wonderful, and the entertainment factor was completely on point. Despite the rain and near-freezing temperatures, it still felt like a taste of summer. The guys were having fun playing, and the fans were loving every minute; everything just as it should be.