Thomas Rhett Shows Star Power in NYC

Thomas Rhett
Irving Plaza, New York City
March 8, 2014
w/ Jon Pardi

On Saturday night, Thomas Rhett brought his unique style of country music to the Irving Plaza, tucked in the Union Square District of New York City.  What followed was an action packed show full of hits from all genres including country, rock, and hip-hop.  Irving Plaza was jam packed like I had never seen it before and I’ve seen such acts such as Toby Keith, Eric Church, and Dierks Bentley there before.  It went to show how hot country music is today and the effect that Nash FM has had upon the City. 

Before the show, my friends and family had the opportunity to meet Thomas Rhett (TR) and present him with some original artwork created by Bill Angresano.  Mr. Angresano is a well known artist who lives in New Jersey.  His daughter attended the show with me and we presented TR with an original charcoal portrait. 

Mr. Angresano has also created some sketches regarding TR’s song “Beer With Jesus”.  Below is one of those amazing sketches:

 

The opening act for the night was newcomer, Jon Pardi, who just had a long run on the country charts with his infectious song “Up All Night”.  Pardi sang a short but entertaining set full of seven songs off of his album, Write You A Song.  He has a distinct twang and has a fairly traditional country style.  He combined party songs with a few love ballads.  I thought “That Man” shined as his best vocal moment while “Up All Night” got the rowdy venue singing along word for word.  I look forward to what I expect to be a solid career from Pardi. 

When Thomas Rhett hit the stage, it was as if a party bomb was set off.  The crowd consisted of fans mainly in the 18-35 year old range and they came ready to party.  TR was ready and set to give them what they wanted.  He began with “All American Middle Class White Boy” and then jumped onto the front amplifier as rapper J-Kwon’s “Tipsy” pumped from the speakers.  It was at that moment that everyone looked around at each other realizing this was not your normal country music show. 

TR created arguably the most unique and diverse setlist that I have ever witnessed before.  As a fan who appreciates all genres, it really was intriguing as he kept upping the ante with what he performed next.  At one point he transitioned from a snippet of Justin Timberlake and Jay Z’s “Suit & Tie” into Garth Brooks’ anthem, “Friends In Low Places”.  At another point he performed “Party Lot Party”, a song he wrote and was recorded by Lee Brice.  However, in the middle of the song he began singing snippets of everything from Tom Petty to Bubba Sparxx to Weezer (see the complete setlist below).  Nothing seemed forced and the combination of all these mash-ups led to constant sing-a-long from the full venue. 

Notwithstanding all of the awesome covers, TR’s original material shined just as bright.  “Get Me Some of That” and “It Goes Like This” had a deafening response from the crowd, as songs such as “Sorry For Partying” and “Front Porch Junkies” were just as well received.  TR seemed so surprised that the crowd responded with such admiration and energy.  And his performance fed right off of that energy as he rocked out, sang with swagger, and used every inch of the stage that he could. 

Overall, the show was one of the best I have seen in awhile.  The plethora of material that Thomas Rhett used from every genre showcased his love for all music and really showcased how the younger generation of country fans fully accepts the genre bending.  TR is easily one of country’s new top acts and based on his Big Apple performance, he is truly a star in the making. 

 

SETLIST:

Thomas Rhett

  1. All American Middle Class White Boy
  2. Tipsy (J-Kwon Cover, Snippet)
  3. What You Got In That Cup
  4. Make Me Wanna
  5. Suit & Tie (Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z Cover, Snippet)
  6. Friends in Low Places (Garth Brooks Cover)
  7. Get Me Some of That
  8. Front Porch Junkies
  9. Sorry For Partying
  10. Parking Lot Party (Lee Brice Cover, with snippets:
  1. Dust On The Bottle (David Lee Murphy Cover)
  2. The Joker (Steve Miller Band Cover)
  3. Free Falling (Tom Petty Cover)
  4. Ms New Booty (Bubba Sparxxx Cover)
  5. Beverly Hills (Weezer Cover)
  • Beer With Jesus
  • Take Me Home
  • Merica
  • Round Here (Florida Georgia Line Cover)
  • It Goes Like This
  • 1994 (Jason Aldean Cover with snippets of Teach Me How To Dougie by Cali Swag District and Big Poppa by Notorious BIG
  • Something To Do With My Hands
  • Hey Hey Hey (Encore)
  • Jon Pardi

    1. Write You A Song
    2. Empty Beer Cans
    3. What I Can’t Put Down
    4. Trash a Hotel Room
    5. That Man
    6. Missing You Crazy
    7. Up All Night

    Toby Keith Proceeds to Party in Hartford, CT

    Toby Keith
    Live in Overdrive Tour
    w/ Brantley Gilbert & Thomas Rhett
    September 20, 2012
    Comcast Theater – Hartford, CT

    It may have been a cool Fall night in Hartford, Connecticut, but things were sure on fire inside the Comcast Theater.  As a matter of fact, they were exploding at times.  Country music’s Big Dog Daddy, Toby Keith, brought his high octane Live in Overdrive Tour to New England with support from Brantley Gilbert and newcomer Thomas Rhett.  As usual, Connecticut made this show yet another sell out for Toby and they were not disappointed one bit.

    Up first was Thomas Rhett, who recently released an EP to Itunes.  His sound is very new age country and his live persona was very likeable.  He sang typical country tunes about drinking, love, and being from a small town.  However, the standout song in his set was his newest single “Beer With Jesus”.  It’s a very lyrics driven song about what he would say if he could spend time, and have a beer, with Jesus.  I expect it will do very well at country radio and he sang the song with passion and soul.

    At one point, Rhett jumped into the crowd and ran all the way to the back section with a megaphone as he sang and rapped the lyrics “Front Porch Junkies”.  It seemed to win over the crowd and keep them enticed to his set.  Overall, I was very impressed with his set and look forward to seeing more from him. 

    Up next was Brantley Gilbert.  He is an artist who has turned from songwriter to country music’s rising star in one short year.  He penned such tunes as Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” and “My Kinda Party” before scoring his own deal.  Both songs went on to be megahits for Aldean, but Brantley has started collecting number 1 songs of his own (Country Must Be Country Wide, You Don’t Know Her Like I Do).  However, it is his live performances that take him to the next level. 

    Most of Brantley’s songs are loud and have a bad boy swagger.  His performance matched that description and more.  He stomped around the stage throwing up rock signs and flexing his muscles.  He had the crowd pumping their fists right along with him.  His songs like “Take It Outside” and “Kick It In the Sticks” had the energy level inside the venue up to a 10. 

    However, it was on “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do” that Brantley seemed to be most authentic.  It’s a song about a confident man trying to explain his love for a woman to someone who just can’t seem to understand.  Brantley’s live delivery made the song much more passionate and showcased the depth of his vocal talent.  The rest of his set was full of energy and he certainly had the crowd in the palm of his hand.  He sets out next week on his first headlining tour and I look forward to catching him again soon. 

    The main event was yet to come and was preceded by the annual humorous Toby Keith/Ford F-150 video clip.  After the video, the shade over the stage fell and the first of many pyrotechnic exploded and out came Toby to the bombastic “American Ride”.  And in true Toby Keith form, the concert began with two American-themed songs (American Ride & Made In America) and ended with two American songs (American Soldier and Courtesy of the Red, White, & Blue).

    Toby’s setlists don’t change much from show to show as he likes to play his hits for the fans while adding in his newest singles.  While America was a main theme of his set, so was alcohol.  His last three singles are all centered around everyone’s favorite liquids and the crowd sang along to “Beers Ago”, “I Like Girls Who Drink Beer”, and the infectious “Red Solo Cup”.  Before singing the latter of the drinking anthems he proclaimed it is the song that “you cannot stop, you can only hope to contain it”. 

    While those songs are all good and fun, it is some of his other material that makes me such a Toby fan.  “God Love Her”, “How Do You Like Me Now”, “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” and “Beer for My Horses” are classic country songs and among the genre’s best.  Toby let his band members have their shines as well, especially guitarist Rich Eckhardt who really showcased his immense talent at the front of the catwalk multiple times.

    But in the end, Toby Keith concerts are defined by his encore, which I have often claimed is the best encore in music, period.  Some nights he brings out multiple soldiers, family members of military members, etc.  On this night, Toby brought out a single soldier to stand next to him while he sang his patriotic anthems.  The soldier had an American flag on his back and was visibly moved while Toby sang the meaningful lyrics.  Both “American Soldier” and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” rang home a little more since we, as a Nation, just remember 9/11.  The soldier Toby brought up at the end was Marine Corps Sgt. Greg Caron. He lost his legs in Afghanistan last November when he stepped on a roadside bomb.

    All in all, it was the typical Toby Keith show:  Opening acts who are major talents and got the crowd amped and ready, and a headlining show full of hits, action, explosions, and big production.  You know what you are going to get at Toby show and that is okay, because it is one of the best concerts, year in and year out, that music has to offer. 

    SETLISTS:

    Toby Keith

    1. American Ride
    2. Made in America
    3. Get Drunk & Be Somebody
    4. God Love Her
    5. I Like Girls That Drink Beer
    6. Beers Ago
    7. I Wanna Talk About Me
    8. Whiskey Girl
    9. Weed with Willie
    10. Who’s Your Daddy
    11. Get out of my Car
    12. Red Solo Cup
    13. As Good as I Once Was
    14. I Love This Bar
    15. Should’ve Been a Cowboy
    16. Beer For My Horses
    17. How Do You Like Me Now
    18. A Little Less Talk
    19. American Solider (ENCORE)
    20. Courtesy of the Red White and Blue (ENCORE)
    Brantley Gilbert
    1. My Kinda Party
    2. Hell On Wheels
    3. Dirt Road Anthem
    4. You Don’t Know Her Like I Do
    5. My Kinda Crazy
    6. Courtney Must be Country Wide
    7. Take it Outside
    8. Kick it in the Sticks
    Thomas Rhett
    1. All American White Boys
    2. Make me Wanna
    3. Beer With Jesus
    4. Front Porch Junkies
    5. Something To Do With My Hands


    VIDEOS:

    Beer With Jesus – Thomas Rhett
     
     
     
     
    Country Must Be Country Wide – Brantley Gilbert
     
     
     
    Beers Ago – Toby Keith
     
     
     
    Red Solo Cup  – Toby Keith
     
     
     
    Should’ve Been a Cowboy – Toby Keith