Luke Bryan with Carly Pearce, Jon Pardi and Sam Hunt at BC Place, 10/13/18
Country music mega star Luke Bryan was in town Saturday night. He was joined by three other musical acts on the final leg of his tour in support of What Makes you Country, his sixth studio album. The evening was a good introduction to some of the things that bring country fans together.
For starters, country fans have stamina. The show was five and a half hours long and featured four well-known musical acts, as well as a proper DJ for the intermissions. Most people were on their feet the entire time.
Unfortunately, not all country fans are die-hards and the stadium was still filling up while up-and-coming starlet Carly Pearce sang her heart out. It’s fair to say that those who were late to the party missed out. However, not to worry because the die-hards that showed up on time had enough love to fill the arena with applause.
Another thing country fans have in common is a fondness for blue plaid shirts. There also seemed to be a substantial number of midriff’s showing considering the chilly fall evening. If Saturday was any indication, the majority of country fans in Vancouver are female, but this could have been due to the fact that three out of the four acts were hunky, dark haired young men.
Jon Pardi was up next and he may well have been the only true cowboy to grace the stage that evening. Wearing nicely fitted blue jeans, a checkered shirt and cowboy hat, Pardi definitely looked the part. He was a stand-out in other ways, too. He was the only musician with a distinct accent and he seemed more comfortable with his guitar in hand than he did strolling up and down the T-shaped catwalk.
His set had a distinctly blue-collar twang to it, and though one might not be quick to label the native of Dixon, California as a badass, one would be equally hesitant to call him wholesome. Like the song “I Got a Little Dirt on My Boots” suggests, “I can get cleaned up if you ask me/but I can only get so fancy”. Carry on, Mr. Pardi.
After Saturday’s show, it would be fair to assume that country fans have a much closer relationship with their cell phones than most. When Sam Hunt, the third artist of the evening jumped off the stage and into the crowd, the surrounding fans immediately thrust their cell phones towards him. Digital keepsakes in the form of photos and video are more prized than actual physical contact.
Sam Hunt entertained the crowd by literally skipping around the stage for the majority of his set. When he wasn’t skipping around the stage, he was jumping off of it and into the crowd. His set was as diverse as it was heartfelt. Although most of it had the pop/R&B vibe of his newer singles, he played a medley of country hits while seated and playing guitar.
Beer. It flowed from the plastic cups of the majority of the audience all night long. It was either the star or a prominent feature in countless songs during the course of the evening. A few cans of it were tossed into the audience by Luke Bryan.
Embracing the spirit of country music is about enjoying every moment. And that’s the spirit that Bryan delivered on. Bryan’s set was nearly two full hours of hit songs that 30,000 people knew all the words to – most they danced to, one they cried to, and the rest they swayed to.
The stage didn’t move. There was no complex light show, and the purpose of the two large monitors behind him was to make sure people at the back could see what they came to see: Luke Bryan.
And the fans made sure Bryan knew they enjoyed every minute of it.