Beer helps, as most people would agree — especially at a country-music concert. The doors opened at 4 p.m., but Bryan didn't hit the stage until a little after 9 p.m. It gave people time to visit the concession stands many times before Bryan himself started tossing out beers during a performance of his debut single, "All My Friends Say."
Before Hunt's performance, DJ Rock spun Drake's "God's Plan" and Childish Gambino's "This Is America." The 70,000-plus country music fans sang along to these popular hip-hop songs; no matter what played, Denver was ready for a good time.
Hunt opened with his new single, "Downtown's Dead." The song boasts some of his strongest lyrics. Before hitting it big as a solo artist himself, Hunt wrote for several other artists, including Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban. Throughout his performance, his vocals occasionally sounded flat. Still, that didn't distract from his storytelling-meets-singing performance style and captivating lyrics.
The line, "It's a Friday night, it's a small-town girl," are recognizable to most country fans as the chorus to Billy Currington's "We Are Tonight" — a song Sam Hunt fans know he wrote. As he sang them, the words resonated, bringing small-town America to the big-city crowd. Hunt finished his hourlong set with his crossover hit, "Body Like a Backroad."
During the bathroom break and beer run, DJ Rock came back to life. This time he had Gucci Mane and 2 Live Crew up his sleeve. When he played LMFAO and Lil Jon's "Shots," the crowd sang along as loudly as they did to Sam Hunt. People danced in the aisles, and some Argus employees even joined in on the fun. DJ Rock did his job to get the crowd hyped up, because right at 9, he had everyone standing, dancing and begging for Luke Bryan.
When the lights blacked out, screams ripped through the stadium. Then, like a true rock star, Luke Bryan rose up from under the stage. Fireworks cascaded through the dark skies just as the lights came up. This is when the shake fest began. Sure, people had been passionately swaying or doing a two-step during the openers, but when Bryan was on stage, there was a certain roar to the crowd that was unheard before. You could hear the thousands of cowboy boots stomping as people showed how flexible they could get in denim. Bryan himself sported some tight light-wash jeans that highlighted his signature — and occasionally corny –— dance moves.
Bryan's attention to detail in his interactions with the crowd is exceptional. He made sure that the first person he hi-fived during the show was a little girl, he constantly pointed at different people to show his connection, and he went out of his way to sign as many autographs as he could during instrumental breaks in the music. One fan gave him a Colorado flag, so he took it and waved it back and forth. During "All My Friends Say," he found someone who had a sign that read, "All my friends say welcome to Colorado." He held it up with a joyful smile before returning to the mic and finishing the song.
Every time Bryan mentioned Colorado, Mile High Stadium, Denver or anything else related to this state, he was welcomed with unanimous applause and a choir of screams. One of Bryan's most popular songs is "Huntin', Fishin', and Lovin' Every Day." Before the song, he asked where his hunters, fishermen and fisherwomen were. The response made it seem like everybody was one.
Bryan is one of country music's top earners, but that doesn't make pulling off a stadium show any easier. After becoming the first country-music artist to headline Dodger Stadium, Bryan told Billboard, "You’ve gotta try to make 50,000 people feel like [they’re in] an intimate setting and an intimate environment. When you’re playing a 15,000-seat amphitheater, everybody’s right in front of you. When I get done with a stadium, I feel like I ran a marathon. There’s no just getting up there and nonchalantly making a stadium show happen. You gotta work hard at it.”
In Denver, Bryan worked hard to make the crowd feel like they were at one of his first shows in town. It's been more than a decade since Bryan first came to play at the Grizzly Rose in 2008. Since then, he's become one of the biggest stars in country music, but he has not lost his humility or his showmanship.
After Bryan took a tequila shot with the crowd and flames shot up during a few of his songs, he continued to shake his hips around every inch of the stage.
After a performance of "Kick the Dust Up," Bryan smiled out toward the crowd and yelled, "It's your night, Colorado!" For the rest of the night, everyone danced like it was.
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