Hot August Sundays at SPAC has meant country music and last Sunday was no exception. A sold out crowd welcomed the nation’s hottest star, Luke Bryan, along with Lee Brice and Cole Swindell. Twenty-six thousand fans filled the pavilion and the lawn enjoying the perfect weather and high-energy performances.
First up was Cole Swindell. Cole had a short set but the crowd had an extended time getting in and the amphitheater and lawn were pretty much full by the 7PM start time. While folks knew his biggest hit “Chillin’ It” that hit number one on the country charts in 2013 and his newest single “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight” – Cole’s biggest hits of the night were sung by Luke Bryan. Swindell is a very accomplished songwriter and his friend Luke Bryan has benefited with numerous hits: “Just a Sip”, “Beer in the Headlights”, “Roller Coaster” and many more.
Lee Brice served as direct support for the tour and sang his heart out to the capacity crowd. From songs about being crazy to being in love with beer. The redneck factor was sky-high and the good times were definitely rolling. Even a toast with the famous red solo cup was enough to have SPAC erupt with whoops and hollers. Brice’s “A Woman Like You” may have been his only number one but it was the rendition of “Love Like Crazy” that stole the show. The big man, who went to Clemson on a football scholarship, held the note on Craaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-zy for what seemed an eternity. The screams from the women in attendance, the vast majority, were only matched later in the evening when the headliner shook what his mama gave him.
And shake, he did. Luke Bryan may have a great voice and great songs, but his good looks and on-stage presence wins the reward for making grown women swoon. Upbeat songs and a lot of dancing carried over from the stage through the seats, all the way back to the far reaches of the lawn. The winner of numerous Country Music Awards, including the Top New Artist in 2010 and Artist of the Year in 2012, along with Billboard’s Top Country Artist in 2013. Bryan sang all his number one hits, such as: “Rain Is a Good Thing“, “Someone Else Calling You Baby“, “I Don’t Want This Night to End“, “Drunk on You“, “Crash My Party“, “That’s My Kind of Night“, “Drink a Beer” and his most recent number one, “Play It Again“” In total Luke Bryan has 11 number ones and his last two albums also topped the charts, going double platinum.
Bryan’s stage performance included the expected shaking and gyrating, but also included him bringing out a cooler full of beer and tossing cans into the audience. The beer-loving crowd that was chugging down over $10 cans all night long did not miss a beat. While the artist attempted to toss most of the beers to the attractive women near the stage, the men were less than gentlemanly snatching them out of the air. Those antics didn’t ruin the mood and seemed more par for the course. In fact, a sentimental toast recalling old friends that the crowd has shared a beer with that are no longer with us on this earth was cause for 26,000 to raise their cans of beer, or bottles of water in the air. It was the perfect way to wind down the evening only to have the party crashed and a duo encore that seemingly everyone stayed for to hear. “Play It Again” and “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” finished the show. The country girls did shake it for Luke and he gladly returned the favor.
For those that are not fans of country music but do enjoy a good Skynyrd or Marshall Tucker tune should give the newer country artists a chance. While cliché country topics of pick-up trucks, drinking beer and swimming holes still resonant through the genre, the pace is a little faster and the guitar solos are a little longer. And if those reasons don’t sell you on trying country music again, well, perhaps a plethora of ‘Daisy Dukes’ might change your mind.