Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013: country concerts review

I started blogging here at Southern Samplings in February of this year. I wanted to blog about my first year out of college and the adventures I went on. I wanted to blog about manners and morals. I wanted to blog about recipes and everything southern...hence the name.
As the year went on, though, I started using Southern Samplings as a documentation of all the fun concerts I was going to. That led to a part time columnist opportunity with several websites and now I'm getting paid to attend concerts and review them. It's definitely not a job that can pay my bills, yet, but it's heading that direction. I'm so excited about the next year. I'll continue blogging about life and country music but a lot of my posts will focus on my planning and move to Nashville. I have a 10 month plan to save and search and I'm already off to a great start.
One of the publishing companies I'm writing for approached me about a "year in review" type of post because of my recent spike in readers and numbers. I am very proud to say that Nashville, Tennessee is currently number 2 on my readers list. It's only a close second behind Birmingham and I'm okay with that.
Stacy sent me 11 questions about my year but asked me to start off listing the concerts and places they were. I've literally been to over 20 so I'm trying to list as many as possible but I'm sure I'll be missing a few small concerts.
I wasn't hired by Stacy and her company until September to write about the concerts so most of the earlier concerts this year are undocumented. I saw Luke Bryan and Jake Owen in Dothan in early spring. Then, my sister and I saw Tim McGraw in Birmingham in early summer. We saw Luke Bryan five more times this year-once in Birmingham, once in Auburn, once in Villa Rica and twice in Nashville. I saw Brett Eldredge in Birmingham and Decatur. I saw Chase Rice twice in Birmingham and Dylan Scott twice in Birmingham and once in Bastrop, LA. We saw Florida Georgia Line three times as well The Band Perry, Thompson Square, Dierks Bentley and Cole Swindell. If they were on the Top 10 at some point in 2013, I've probably seen 90% of them.
Okay, so there's a little background information. Now, we'll get to the fun part!
1. What were the settings like at these shows? Did you see them as a tour stop or part of a festival?
I went to Toadlick Music Festival in Dothan as the first concert of the year. There were several opening acts and local talents but both Jake Owen and Luke Bryan played for an hour and a half, so I felt like it was two concerts in one because they both played for so long. Other than that, the rest have been a part of the artist current "tours." Two of Luke Bryan's concerts were part of his mini tour called "Farm Tour." Several stops were radio hosted events as well.
2. What has been the worst concert you've been to this year and why?
Well, this is a win-lose situation. I'll have to explain. I'm going to say Auburn, Alabama for Luke's Farm Tour. Farm Tour is general admission aka "if you want a good seat, you better get there at 2 PM when gates open." Farm Tour is amazing because all the money he makes from tickets, he donates to the farm for scholarships. But, at the same time, it's in the middle of a field in the middle of October. And, in Alabama, the middle of October is still 90 degrees. So, you "sit" in line for at least 5-6 hours before the gates are open for you to sprint like a marathon runner to the stage. I should link back to the Farm Tour post so the new readers can experience a little more what it's like. But, it's basically hades on earth. I mean, obviously, once Luke starts performing, every second is worth it BUT it's still hard. The Auburn Farm Tour was also a night that I had a meet and greet for Luke. The meet and greet doesn't start until approximately a hour before he performs. So, this means when the gates open at 6, you run to get your "dream" spot at the stage. And, every concert I've been to this year (with the exception of 1 due to a 12 year old kid at Dylan, still bitter), we've had front row spots. So, after watching Chancie Neal and Cole Swindell open, you have to FIGHT through thousands of people to go to the meet and greet. And, then, shocker, you have to fight your way back. And, let me tell you, I feel sorry for Luke because of the amount of insanely insane fans he has. Like, 50 year old grandma's cussing you out for trying to get back to your spot type of fans. It's one thing to be a FAN and support the artists but it's another to think you're the artist girlfriends (especially when they are MARRIED!!)
3. What was the farthest you traveled this year? What's the farthest that you would travel for an artist?
The farthest we went for a concert this year was Bastrop, Louisiana to see Dylan Scott. It was an off weekend for both me and my friends that went along so it was the perfect weekend for a road trip. Nashville is only three hours from Birmingham and that's where we saw a lot of artists but that's up the road to me. I don't really think that there is a limit on how far I would travel. I was gifted with Luke Bryan tickets for NYC in January so I'm attending that one. As long as my schedule doesn't conflict with tour stops, the traveling doesn't bother me.
4. Who had the best opening act as a regular tour stop artist this year?
This one has to go to Luke simply because he had Florida Georgia Line as an opening act. And, I really love Florida Georgia Line a lot. They are so personable and sweet and their girlfriends are adorable! I love when artists make you feel like they really are just another person with a cool job.
5. Which artist do you feel like connected with the audience the best? Why?
I think this one is a tie. Obviously Luke "connects" with the audience by shaking and dancing. He's also been an established artist for a while so he has fans that will come to multiple show. Exhibit A is me. We saw him 6 times this year. He's fun and energetic and makes the show fun. As far as a new artist, though, definitely Dylan Scott. He hasn't been performing for many years but he had the same ability to hold the audiences attention as Luke Bryan did. To be a new artist, I think that says a lot about his future as an artist.
6. Country singers are notorious for being drunk after performing at bars and honky tonks. Were any of the shows in bar settings and did you see any inappropriate behavior by any of the artists?
This one is funny because I totally judged Brett Eldredge hard core because I thought he was wasted the first time we met him. But, after talking to him for a while and meeting him again, it's safe to say he just has a drawl when he talks. He definitely wasn't drunk. Ha! And Chase Rice drank the most on stage, by far, but seems to keep his composure the entire show. He also said the F word more times than I could count, but, hey, to each their own. He's a little rock and roll and a lot of country and his show puts that vibe off. He definitely kept everyone entertained. I have no complaints about any of the artist I've met this year. Each one reminded me of why I loved country music to begin with.
7. If you can only pick one concert that you could attend next year, whose show would it be?
Garth Brooks. Easy. :)
8. Whose band was the most fun to watch perform?
Dylan Scott's. It probably helps that we met them all after the shows so it felt like you were there supporting them as friends and not just some random fans there to see the artist. A lot of fans and people in general don't realize that the band works just as hard as the artist. Obviously, the artist carries more of the weight because if someone doesn't like a show, it's not normal to blame the keyboard player but it's real easy to blame the artist. Josh Kerr and Jacob Simmons are members of Dylan Scott's band. They are just as fun to watch. I got the same vibe from Cole Swindell and Luke Bryan's band but didn't talk a lot or get to know a lot of the other band members like I've gotten to with Dylan Scott's band.
9. Who has the craziest fans?
Luke Bryan, hands down. The amount of inappropriate things people say about him at concerts is literally mind boggling. He's married, first off. And he has a family. AND, just for kicks and giggles, a lot of his family members and crew members are in the crowd during shows. It's pathetic to me the way people talk about him. Be respectful. Go to shows to enjoy the artist and their music. Don't go with the intention of trying to hook up with them after. That doesn't make me think very much of you as a fan.

10. You've had the opportunity to meet more than 10 of the artists this year. Do you have any advice on how to act, what to say, etc?
I'll limit myself on this one because I think I could write a chapter book on "how to meet celebrities 101." Number one, like I said earlier, be respectful. These artists are people with families. Imagine if someone was talking about your husband or brother or daughter the way some people talk about artists. Every time I've had the incredible opportunity to meet them, I try to be as respectful and reserved as possible. There was one Luke Bryan fan that literally met him 30 times this year and for reasons that are still a mystery to us all. Unless I become one of the artist's best friends, I don't want to meet them 30 times in one year. I don't want to ever be viewed as the "crazy fan." I want to go to these concerts because I enjoy their music. I want to bring people to these concerts with me because I want other people to enjoy their music, too. I've never asked them to sign anything crazy or cry when I meet them. Again, like I said earlier, they are just like us with incredibly cool jobs. Be respectful and congratulate them on recent accomplishments. But don't ask them to sign your butt or cry about it. The cooler you are, the cooler they are with you. Luke Bryan didn't remember my name but he did call me Curls two meet and greets in a row and referenced conversations from other times I've met him. You can make an impression by just being supportive and happy for them without try to take their clothes off, literally.

11. If you could give an award for the best concert of the year, who would get it?

Dylan Scott. See previous posts for further explanation. He's just fun. His whole shows are.
I'll allow Instagram stalking for the purpose of this post because I had to type this on a computer without all the pictures saved. But, there are a lot of videos and pictures from each concert.


  1. Love this post! So fun that you get all these experiences! You are the most deserving and I can't wait to see how big you make it in Nashville. Happy Monday!

  2. What a cool post. I love reading your insight and opinions, and your perspective is refreshing. You have met some of the coolest people in the business, all while keeping your feet on the ground and your standards in tact. I look forward to reading about what your future holds.