When I heard Luke Bryan was coming to the California Mid-State Fair this year, I was ready to fight someone for coveted tickets to the sold-out show.
I knew I was going to love every second of it because let’s be honest: He doesn’t have a bad song.
The country blockbuster is as close to a guaranteed hitmaker as the genre gets these days. Slap his name on it, and a couple thousand screaming fans will make it their new anthem.
So going into the concert Thursday night, I was expecting a pretty damn good show — and boy did he deliver.
Side note: I wish I could speak to opening act, Jon Pardi’s, musical talents, but unfortunately I was one of the crowd of people stuck outside the concert venue, waiting to get in for most of his set. From the sound of it though, people were REALLY enjoying the California boy’s songs about boots, drinking and the like. He also came back on stage later in Bryan’s set to perform some “honky-tonk” classics like Alabama’s “Mountain Music” and George Strait’s “Carrying Your Love With Me” that were absolutely excellent.
Now back to Bryan.
His concert is remarkably low-frills for his brand of bro-country. Not that size matters, but the video screen on the back of the stage was not nearly as large as some other artists’ I’ve seen at the fair (looking at you, Rascall Flatts), and they of course played around with some lasers and pyrotechnics. But otherwise, the focus was largely on Bryan the entire time.
He started off the show with one of his big hits, “Country Girl,” which demands that the country girls in the audience “shake it for him.”
So they did.
Then he rolled through a mix of his older and newer songs. “Huntin’, Fishin’, and Lovin’ Every Day,’” “Light It Up,” “All My Friends Say,” “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset Repeat,” the list goes on and on.
What really managed to get the audience going (beside Bryan’s signature hip thrusting and grinding) was any time he mentioned California. Which was a lot.
“It is hot and dry as hell here. What is happening?” he joked to the audience at one point as they screamed themselves hoarse. “I’m not gonna hit every note cause my body is not equipped for 109 degrees.”
The drought-weary California crowd also really enjoyed one of his early hits, “Rain is a Good Thing,” for obvious reasons.
Bryan, who turned 42 on July 17, was still in the midst of celebrating his birth month, so he treated the crowd to a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” before taking a birthday shot and wishing a happy birthday to all the July babies out there.
The show did eventually have to come to an end, but not before Bryan sang one of my favorites — “That’s My Kind of Night” — that had all of us screaming back at him, “yeah that’s my kind of night!”