Last Sunday night marked the very last show of country performer Chase Rice’s Jack Daniel’s and Jesus tour. The beginning of the evening at the Commodore was left to openers Jordan Davis and the Cadillac Three.
“This is the first time we’ve been here [in Vancouver],” said Cadillac frontman Jaren Johnston. “We’ve been here to buy drugs, but we’ve never got to play for you fine people.”
Serving the audience with the band’s proud home glory anthems “The South” and “Tennessee Mojo”, the Cadillac Three’s playful hair band-like stage presence sat well with concertgoers.
North Carolina-born Chase Rice is relatively new to the country music scene, but he has risen in popularity very quickly. Having been in Vancouver just last summer as Kenny Chesney’s opener, Rice relished in the headlining opportunity this time around: “I learned last summer you all like drinking your asses off in this town,” Rice said as he broke into “I Like Drinking, Cause It’s Fun”.
Country shows have a hard time not being cheesy, and this one was no different. Guitarists lined up and bobbed back in forth in unison, on occasion urging the audience to join them with a “hell yeah!” or two. Rice knows his music is “good time music” and that his audience is only there for a good time, so he threw as much of it at them as he could. This started with a “drinking playlist” cover medley of country fan favorites, “Drink a Little Drink, Smoke a Little Smoke”, “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, “Dust on the Bottle”, “Living on a Prayer”, and “Free Falling”.
Three-quarters of the way though the show Rice noticed a couple furiously making our near the front of the stage and singled them out, inviting the girl up with him. “Our job for the next two minutes is to piss him off as much as we can,” Rice said, seating the girl beside him and serenading her with his song “Ride” while periodically narrating what the two of them might do without her boyfriend. The singer made her night, and the couple resumed making out. “You’re welcome,” Rice said to the boyfriend, laughing.
Rice is not a groundbreaking country star, but his style feeds into the Top 40 country wave that is dominating North American culture. This is a party culture that uses southern comforts and good ol’ time charm to encourage beer-drinking and finding a red lipped wrangler-clad girl to spend some time with. But the point is that it is fun. Rice surrounds himself with musicians who know how to play their instruments and know how to play them well. This allows him to stand in front of the audience looking cool. The only time it was just Rice and his guitar was during “Jack Daniel’s and Jesus”, which he stated is the best song he has ever written. Rice’s show greatly paled in comparison to the instrumental expertise and songwriting savvy of the country ragtime group the Devil Makes Three that spent two nights in the same venue the week before. But his concert style is accessible and easy to dance along with.
Rice is first and foremost a songwriter, and his biggest hit has undoubtedly been the Florida Georgia Line chart-topper, “Cruise”, for which Jordan Davis joined him onstage to see along. But in keeping with the theme of “good time music” that night, Rice’s biggest reaction came during a cover of the Garth Brooks classic, “Friends in Low Places”. While his own “50 Shades of Crazy” and “Look at My Truck” have certainly gotten their fair share of radio time — as the audience proved Sunday evening — Rice has a long way to go until his songs can fully carry a concert.