For this only being my 2nd concert weekend of the year, I’m afraid I’ve set the bar a little high for myself. Needless to say, I was reinvigorated by music this weekend – nothing like a double header cross-state trip to bring you back to life.
When I was thinking about how I would present this post a little differently than my others, I settled on the idea of the ever-evolving artist. Since I’ve seen all but one of the acts this weekend more than once, I can draw back to the first, second, (or third…) time I’ve seen them and share with you how exciting it is to watch someone grow like that. But first, before I go into all of that I need to talk about the most amazing part of this weekend for me.
I’ll link you back to it, but if we go back to my post about Lady Antebellum, you’ll recall that I talked just a little bit and not crazy fan-girl-ish at all, about Nicolle Galyon. You can go back and read all about what I had to say about her, but GUYS. SHE. WAS. THERE. On Friday morning I was minding my own business, watching some Instragram stories , when BAM – Kelsea Ballerini posted a picture of Nicolle sitting on her bus. Now this might not mean anything to you – it doesn’t, actually – but to me it said “Gina, Nicolle is going to be at the show tonight.” But songwriters do this all the time, go out on the road with artists to write because it’s like killing two birds with one stone. But if you’re me, you know that Nicolle sings on one of Walker Hayes’ songs, who happened to be opening for Kelsea. Do you see where I’m going with this?? It’s one thing to be excited for a show or artists you love, but when you get to experience something that 1. you never thought you would and 2. not many people get to – well, that can change a girl. See below for conversational proof.
This is Nicolle. She’s written songs like Tequila for Dan + Shay, and All the Pretty Girls for Kenny Chesney, and Female for Keith Urban, and Boy for Lee Brice. While I’m not physically dead, I’ve peaked for sure.
But I digress; of course I didn’t know Nicolle would be there so the reason I had tickets to this concert was for my girl Kelsea and my dude Walker.
I first wrote about Walker Hayes back in October when he opened for Thomas Rhett. I know I do this – so I don’t know about the rest of you – but when I’m getting to see someone for the first time, I set expectations of what it’s going to be like. Usually it’s unfair because if it’s the first time, they are typically newer to these kinds of performances and only have about 25 minutes to show what they can do. With that being said, and with this post being about the evolution of the artist – I can say that even in the last few months there is a difference in the way Walker performed. More confidence, maybe. But the first time I was further away and the sound kind of sucked and this time I was able to actually feel the music I love so much. I’m also used to see people for the first time from the pit, so the fact that I haven’t seen him from that perspective yet might be throwing me off. But that’s going to happen in March & I will gladly report back.
The main act for Friday was Kelsea Ballerini. Now you might also remember that in that same Lady Antebellum post where I described my girl crush on Nicolle, I wrote about Kelsea for the first time. The way her music was so honest and she wasn’t afraid to be herself and leave it all out there. It was good stuff. But this time? It was incredible stuff. That first time was just about 7 months ago and a lot has changed for her since then. The girl (I saw girl because she is younger than me and I’m jealous of her life) released an album, got married, and as of yesterday has her 4th #1 song. It is such a pivotal time in her life and you can see it in her performance. This tour & her album is called Unapologetically, which I happen to relate to on a very real level. I’m positive I’ve written it here before, but when you are unapologetically anything – it is such a liberating experience. While I am unapologetically who I am, Kelsea is writing about being unapologetically in love – and though it’s supposed to be about her mans, I feel it being more about the life she’s creating right now.
She played her entire album from start to finish – another thing that makes me love her. She knows what she has created, the story she has generated and the way it’s supposed to be told. In case you are from the dark ages, or don’t care about music at all, there is a reason behind track lists for albums and if you don’t listen to them in order you are a crazy person. But she told her story for us Friday night and broke it up between heartbreak, finding yourself, and finding love. It was magical and I felt every second of it. Watching who she was back in July and who she is now on Friday night is how I want to feel every time I see an artist for the 2nd or 3rd time.
But the weekend doesn’t stop there folks. It was supposed to, but last minute I bought a ticket to Chris Young, Kane Brown & Lanco playing here locally. It was a solo ticket and for the first time in…ever?…it was just me & some music. I didn’t stand up & sing & dance – I just watched and listened and felt. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had at a show.
Lanco is the only act this weekend I’ve never seen before, so you know what I said about expectations. It has to be such a thought-out process on their end for how they are going to portray themselves and what songs they are going to use to showcase who they are – because like I said they have about 25 minutes to prove to you they are worth you purchasing their album or a ticket to see them again. Don’t worry, I have both. They were so upbeat & fun – got the crowd involved every chance they could, including running in to the middle of the floor seats for a drum solo. That’s a huge risk to take when a lot of people are just learning you who are and going for it proves to me that they know how to put on a show. They also talked about how now more than ever it’s important to let music bring us together – so obviously I was sold on them. I’ll get my 2nd performance from them in March & I’m looking forward to it.
Kane Brown was next and I’m going to be honest – I was just meh about it. This is the 3rd time or so I’ve written about him; from seeing him in Nashville with FGL to him opening for Jason Aldean a few months ago – I can give a pretty solid perspective of his evolution. I’ll be honest here, too; I was pleasantly surprised. Without sounding pretentious, it’s like he is growing into who he is as a performer and becoming more commanding of the space he’s been given. And the boy has some fans, that’s for damn sure. He’s a cute, young kid so that’s not surprising but the number of people who knew every word and were screaming their faces off for him says a lot. He & I had a nice little conversation on Instagram this morning too – he’s good people and I’m excited to continue watching him evolve.
I could write about Chris Young again, but I feel like I just did that, so I won’t put you all through that again. Great performance of great songs; but I was much more pleasantly surprised by the openers this time around.
All in all – great weekend where I can now die happy if God so chooses to take me out of this world; I saw Nicolle perform live and that’s all I need. Sorry I blabbered on – but there’s some time before my next post so you have plenty of time to read!