Bro-country duo comes out blazing
First Posted: 5/5/2015
If you like your country music without all those pesky fiddles, banjos and pedal steel guitars, then the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza was the place to be Sunday night as bro-country duo Florida Georgia Line brought its “Anything Goes” tour to town.
For the uninitiated, bro-country is a style of country music with elements of hip hop, rock and pop and most songs are about attractive young women, the consumption of alcohol and pickup trucks. It is definitely not your father’s – or grandfather’s – country music.
And apparently there are plenty of people in Northeast Pennsylvania who like this new-fangled music as Sunday’s show sold out in less than 15 minutes when tickets went on sale back in November.
Sunday’s festivities kicked off with Frankie Ballard, a 32-year-old singer from Battle Creek, Michigan, who won Kenny Chesney’s “Next Big Star” competition in 2008. His 25-minute set was highlighted by two Top 10 hits from his second album “Sunshine & Whiskey” including the title track and “Helluva Life.”
At the end of his set, he asked a few young girls in the front row if they had ever heard of Bob Seger. None of them could name any songs by the legendary rocker, but Ballard had that covered.
“I’m from Michigan, so I know a lot of Bob Seger,” he said before leading the audience through a sing-along version of “Old Time Rock and Roll.”
Up next was Thomas Rhett, a 25-year-old singer-songwriter from Georgia (and son of country star Rhett Akins), who has co-written hit tunes for Jason Aldean (“1994”), Lee Brice (“Parking Lot Party”) and Florida Georgia Line (“Round Here”).
Rhett’s 50-minute set on Sunday featured most of his solo hits including “Something to Do with My Hands,” “It Goes Like This” and “Beer with Jesus.” Must have been a sizable number of Rhett fans in the house as many sang along with every word.
His popular version of “Parking Lot Party” included snippets of Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” and Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” and he finished up with his hit “Get Me Some of That” and a bizarre but sort of cool cover of “Uptown Funk.” Guess you just never know what you’re going to hear at a “country” concert these days.
After staring at a white curtain with drawings of the states of Florida and Georgia for 25 minutes as the crew set the stage for the main event, the crowd exploded from the moment the duo of Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard were finally visible.
Tons of lights and lasers danced as FGL started Sunday with “Every Night,” a cut from its latest album, “Anything Goes,” moving right into “It’z Just What We Do” from the duo’s “Here’s to the Good Times” debut.
For the record, pretty sure I saw a banjo on stage for that second song, although it was inaudible over the noise of the crowd. Florida Georgia Line then kept the party going with “Round Here,” a No. 3 hit from the first album.
“I understand partying on Saturday night, but you guys get out every night of the week,” Hubbard said as the duo toasted the rowdy concert goers with Fireball. “We’re just getting started and we know Pennsylvania is gonna blow the roof off this place!”
As the duo worked its way through hits such as “Get Your Shine On” and “Stay,” the packed house seemingly grew louder with each one. FGL’s latest hit “Sippin’ on Fire” went over well, as did the 2014 No. 1 “Dirt.”
After finishing up the main set with “This Is How We Roll,” a No. 1 that originally featured Luke Bryan, the duo left the stage as a somewhat humorous cartoon of them backstage egged on the crowd to get even louder on the video screens.
Kelley and Hubbard, now wearing torn FGL T-shirts with their nicknames “BK” and “T Hubb” emblazoned on their backs, started the encore with “Sun Daze,” and then brought out Ballard and Rhett for a supercharged “Party People.”
After teasing the crowd with tales of sixth-grade mixtapes and snippets of songs such as Bruno Mars’ “Treasure” and Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places,” Florida Georgia Line finally finished up with “Cruise” and the crowd went nuts one more time.
At the end of the song, Hubbard and Kelley tore off their shirts and flung them into the crowd as the screen now read, “Florida Georgia Line loves Wilkes-Barre. Thanks for partying with your boys – Be safe going home.”