It was a cool, damp, spring evening in Ottawa when Florida Georgia Line returned to the Canadian Tire Centre just over 2 years after their last performance in the city.
Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, aka Florida Georgia Line, are already on the second leg of their massive Dig Your Roots world tour which features supporting performances by Chris Lane and Dustin Lynch, both of whom have performed in Ottawa (Lane performed exactly one year prior to Thursday nights show at the New Country 94 Summer Kick Off Party in 2016).
Newcomer Morgan Wallen made his Ottawa debut on Thursday night and let me tell you, if you haven’t heard that name yet make note of it because soon it will be as common as Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton. As a subscriber of SiriusXM Satellite radio I have been hearing Wallen’s smash debut single, “The Way I Talk“, regularly on SiriusXM The Highway…”The Way I Talk” is about to make it’s debut on Canadian country radio and something tells me it’s going straight to the top. Wallen put on a strong opening performance, he’s definitely one I’ll be keeping an eye on in the coming months and years. Visit Morgan Wallen online to follow his career here!
As I mentioned earlier, I first saw Chris Lane a year ago at Algonquin Commons Theatre as part of New Country 94’s Summer Kick Off party. Lane is a unique artist with a unique style. I’m not sure if country music is the right label for him but country music these days is hard to label as it is so it might just be a perfect fit…one thing is certain, he loves the fans and the fans love him.
Lane is currently promoting his debut album (as a solo artist) Girl Problems. The album has spawned singles “Fix”, “For Her” and “Let Me Love You”, all of which the audience knew word for word. But as much as I enjoy Lane’s music there was one part of the show that I was waiting for above all…something that Lane has done at every show for almost as long as he’s been performing live…and that something was his pop medley. Over the course of 5 minutes Lane covered Backstreet Boys, The Weeknd, Justin Timberlake, Jason Derulo, NSYNC, Silentó and Flo Rida…the crowd loved every second of it and it was the perfect way to build up the energy for the next artist who would have the audience seein’ “Red” before the night was through…Dustin Lynch.
Dustin Lynch made his first visit to the Canadian Tire Centre with Luke Bryan on his That’s My Kinda Night Tour also just over 2 years ago (May 1, 2015). Lynch has come along way since being the first opener in 2015 to being direct support on this tour. Lynch is currently riding a high that few artists get to experience but all four of his last four singles hit the number 1 spot on the US Country Airplay chart.
Lynch kicked off his set standing high above the stage on the top of the drum kit with his second number 1 single “Hell of a Night” after which he came down to centre stage and told the crowd that the party starts NOW…he was right. Lynch wasted no time getting to his latest, and fourth number 1 single, “Seein’ Red” which he followed with his current single “Small Town Boy”. “Seein’ Red” and “Small Town Boy” are singles off of a yet to be named album which the audience was told to expect very soon. Lynch treated the crowd to another new, yet to be released, track, from the new album, called “Love Me or Leave Me Alone” to which the audience lit up the arena with their phones. Lynch wrapped up the night with two more songs…first up was his first #1 single “Where It’s At” and his final song was his debut single, “Cowboys and Angels”, which peaked at #2 on the US Country Airplay chart and is his highest ever charting song on the US Country charts where it also hit the #2 spot (“Where It’s At” hit #4 and “Seein’ Red” hit #5).
Florida Georgia Line
Florida Georgia Line are known for their live performance and have a reputation of blurring the lines between country and other genres, last month FGL joined the Chainsmokers at a show in Cincinnati where they performed their collaboration “Last Day Alive” during the encore. Their most recent album, and forthcoming tour, are perfect examples of this with tracks like “God, Your Mama and Me” which was recorded with the Backstreet Boys and “Life Is a Honeymoon” which was recorded with Ziggy Marley. Their live show doesn’t feel like a country show with it’s fair share of pyro and special effects to keep the night interesting.
BK and Tyler kicked off the show in style with “This is How We Roll” (minus Luke Bryan) before ultimately coming down to the stage. Jason McCoy should be honoured to know that Brian had really grown out his beard and is starting to take on a striking resemblance to the Road Hammer.
Over the course of the next 90 minutes the duo took the audience through an endless sing along of some of their, and some of their influences’, biggest hits. From the early classics like “It’z Just What We Do” to some of my personal favourites from the new album “Way We Are” (minus Tim McGraw), “H.O.L.Y.” and “God, Your Mama and Me” (minus the Backstreet Boys).
Part of the show took place at the back of the arena on a stage outfitted to look like a campground scene including a campfire with just BK and Tyler and their guitars. Tyler took to a grand piano to perform “H.O.L.Y.” and by that point it was clear that Ottawa was High on Lovin’ Florida Georgia Line.
The duo returned to the main stage and called up Dustin Lynch and Chris Lane and the four of them performed “Sun Daze” before closing out the main set with “Get Your Shine On”.
The encore was probably my favourite part of the show. This is where BK and Tyler really let their hair down and showed their pop roots. Giving the Ottawa crowd a small taste of their upcoming “Smooth” tour which will see Florida Georgia Line team up with Hip Hop superstar Nelly as well as the Backstreet Boys along with Chris Lane. For the second song of their encore they mashed up “Ride Wit Me” by Nelly, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” by Toby Keith, “Last Resort” by Papa Roach, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” by The Backstreet Boys, “This is How We Do It” by Montel Jordan and “Jump Around” by House of Pain. If the Ottawa crowd needed one more reason to turn the party up a notch this was it.
The show ended exactly where it began, for BK and Tyler, with “Cruise”. “Cruise” is the best-selling country digital song of all time in the United States as of January 2014.
Florida Georgia Line put on an incredible show, was it a country show? Does it matter? I witnessed a packed Canadian Tire Centre dancing and singing along to music that was country, rock, hip hop, pop and no one seemed to care. With rain dampening spirits outside and river waters rising into flood waters the Dig Your Roots tour stop in Ottawa was just what the doctor ordered to give Ottawa a night to have fun and get it’s mind off of the events unfolding outside for a few hours.
Florida Georgia Line is everything that’s right with music…to me music shouldn’t be labeled or put in a box. Music is about taking things that you feel and putting them to words with a melody. Sometimes those feelings come across like a country song, other times they’re more intense like a rock song and other times they require a bit more of a beat like that of a pop or hip hop song. Florida Georgia Line is one of those groups that refuses to let borders box them into a specific genre or style and for that reason alone you should put BK and Tyler high up on your concert bucket list, simply because…as Forest Gump would say “A Florida Georgia Line tour is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re gonna get!”
Dig Your Roots becomes Smooth
As I write this the Dig Your Roots Tour is wrapping up it’s final Canadian date of 2017 in Quebec City. After a very short break BK and Tyler will be back on the road with Chris Lane and Nelly starting off June 2 in Austin, Texas. If you’re looking to catch the “Smooth” Tour stops that include the Backstreet Boys the first stop is at Fenway Park in Boston on July 7 followed by Target Field in Minneapolis on July 29 and then Wrigley Field in Chicago on August 12.
Naturally for full details and tickets to all upcoming shows visit www.floridageorgialine.com