Friday Nights will NEVER be the same.
This past Friday Night I witnessed the sheer brilliance of John Marks and SXM The Highway and ability to find the NEXT big thing.
Friday night the Anything Goes Tour rolled into Kingston, Ontario. A long way from Florida or Georgia, heck even Nashville for that matter, but Brian Kelley & Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line had sold out the K-Rock Center and that crowd was LOUD.
I was lucky enough to have had a chat with opening act Frankie Ballard earlier in the week and you can read that interview here. When Frankie hit the stage the place wasn’t quite at capacity but it was darn close. The Helluva Life hit maker played a fantastic set with Sunshine & Whiskey and current single Young & Crazy being personal favourites. Seeing Frankie without the guitar was a bit different as he is such a talented guitarist and likely takes a bit of creativity out of the set. BUT I can say that he can work the stage without the axe in his hand and a sore shoulder to boot. And talking to the people around me they were darn impressed at how the guy could really ROCK and both ended up with Ballard T-shirts and a coozies after his set. And that’s how you build your fan base one fan at a time.
Next up… THOMAS RHETT!!!!
Ok, yes I yelled that. I am a huge fan of songwriters and Mr. Rhett is currently one of the industry’s best. I have had the pleasure to chat with Thomas after his set at Canada AM back in September of 2014 briefly and the Hendersonville, Tennessee boy sure is a class act. And I have to say this would be my 5th time seeing TR. But, I have to be honest, I was not thrilled with the set song selection on this night. Yes I know for being such a fan you would think I would be on hear spewing verbal diarrhea on how great Thomas’s set was. We did get a couple of the favourites such as Beer with Jesus and Something to Do with my Hands but missing out on such great songs like Front Porch Junkie & his Jason Aldean hit 1994 I was really hoping to hear more of his repertoire rather than the cover of Uptown Funk.
Don’t get me wrong it was cool to see such a great performer give the Bruno Mars hit a spin. But with such an amazing list of song credits I just wish as a fan of his song writing I wish he would have sang another of his own. There is a laundry list of songs so I won’t even start. Did he get the crowd moving? Funkin’ right he did! When he kicked into the cover of Uptown Funk the girls sitting beside me lost their minds which as a fan of music was awesome to see. Thomas has a personality that shines bright on the big stage or sitting in at a private performance at the Rockin’ Horse in Downtown Toronto he just knows how to make the big room feel like the Honky Tonks in Nashville. If you haven’t had the chance to listen to Thomas Rhett because of lack of radio play (1 maybe 2 songs) depending on where you live in Ontario. Pick up his album, watch his YouTube videos. I honestly can say, TR is one of my favorite artists writing and performing today and would die to see him in a song writers circle.
As I had mentioned earlier about the power of John Marks, SXM Radio & The Highway, well the sold out crowd came to see the boys of Florida Georgia Line who got the blessing of Mr. Marks almost 3 years ago (May 2012). It was John Marks (Sr. Program Director @ The Highway) that gave the duo from the south their shot with their first radio single Cruise. And to think just a short 3 years later the boys are headlining their own tour across North America. The crowd Friday night at the K-Rock could not be more thankful to John! The BIG Sound, the BIG Stage, and of course the BIG SHOW! From open to close I don’t think these guys let the foot off the pedal. From Every Night, Shine On and Party People they knew how to get the crowd on their feet. It was early in the set when the guys kicked into Round Here and towards the end of the song they invited up a special guest on stage to sing with them. Now those of you familiar with social media this has become a bit more common with the likes of Luke Bryan and Carrie Underwood but they pulled up a little guy by the name of Reece and had him sing the final verse of Round Here.
Everyone has their opinion on something like this. Mine, I LOVE IT. Having a wee guy of my own that has been pulled up by the Canadian Country superstars The Road Hammers. I know that it’s an experience that the parent nor the child will ever forget. And he FANS ATE IT UP!!! Seriously it was one of those moments that you can say that say both Tyler & Brian were so excited to experience it as much as little Reece.
For guys that have only released 2 albums and the most recent (Anything Goes) only being in stores for 3 months you would think that they may have a hard time filling the near 2 hour set with all killer no filler material… NOT THE CASE. They filled it with hit after hit. When it wasn’t their hit it may have been a collaboration of some of the guy’s favourites such as Bruno Mars’ Treasure & Garth Brooks’ Friends In Low Places.
If you didn’t get a chance to see the guys on this tour don’t worry because you got another shot in August at Boots & Hearts and trust me, if you thought it was big this weekend in Ottawa and Kingston, wait ’til there are 50,000+ singing along. Can’t Wait!
As for the venue. I would go see anyone at the Rogers K-Rock Centre. Great venue and fantastic staff. Looking forward to more shows there.
Corey Kelly / @CoreyKelly76