The entire evening was filled with smiles, high fives and memorable moments.
It may have been cold outside, but inside the Verizon Center Saturday night was fire. Dustin Lynch brought his Ride or Die, first headlining tour to Mankato. The sold out crowd had no troubles keeping warm. Lynch brought along newcomers Mitchell Tenpenny and the band Lanco to get the crowd fired up for one Hell of a night.
Singer/songwriter Mitchell Tenpenny was the first to get the crowd warmed up. Tenpenny started his set with an ode to freedom and the open road with “Truck I drove”. Mitchell's voice is smooth and inviting. A mix of soul meets country.
Tenpenny’s set included everything from fun sing along songs to heartbreak, like his song “Mixed Drinks" which he wrote with Jordan Walker of Walker Mcguire. The song takes place in a bar watching a lady taking one night to drink the heartbreak away. Mitchell closed his set with the head turning song “Bitches". The song is about cheaters and ridding oneself of people like that. In Mitchell's words, “Yeah, it can be a harsh word, but in our song, it's about a feeling more than a cuss.” Tenpenny may not be a household name for his voice just yet, but he has written some amazing songs for artists such as American Idol winner Nick Fradiani and “If the boot fits” the Granger Smith hit, which Tenpenny cowrote. I recommend checking Mitchell out for yourself, this guy is off to big things.
Lanco was next to take the stage in Mankato. These guys came out of the gates ready to party and show Minnesota how to have a good time. The crowd was treated to some new songs off their soon to be released album, which the crowd was informed will be dropping sometime in January.
These guys are high energy, feel good, forget about the world kind of band. In between playing their own songs the guys busted out into a honky tonk with their cover of the John Michael Montgomery hit “Grundy County Auction”. Wanting to get the crowd firing on all cylinders for Dustin, Lanco took the party into the crowd with a drum in tow during their song “You and Me”.
Before handing the crowd over to Lynch, Lanco thanked the crowd for coming out early to catch their set. And for always being so warm and welcoming every time they play in Minnesota. They then closed their set with their hit song “Greatest Love Story”. If you haven't seen Lanco, you are in for a treat. The guys will be back here in February along with Kane Brown and headliner Chris Young.
Filled with anticipation the crowd screamed as the screen on stage started showing Dustin in black and white. It was finally time to amp up this party even more, as the screen suggested it's “Ride or Die time, party at your own risk”. Lynch appeared on stage kicking off his set with “Here we come”off his new album ‘Current Mood’.
Dustin wasted no time, not wanting to interrupt the killer party going on he performed hit after hit, mixed in with new songs. From “Hell of a night” to “New Girl” the crowd sang along.
Lynch commanded the stage like a seasoned pro, it was hard to tell this was his very first headlining tour. In fact, someone who didn't know any better would never have known. Dustin did a great job of mixing his songs in with crowd pleasing covers, like his version of Flo Rida’s “Welcome to my house”.
Slowing things down a bit, Lynch took to a bar stool and his guitar serenading the crowd with his hit song, “Cowboys and Angels”. Lynch explained that Minnesota holds a special place in his heart with the song. Said the first time he north of Kentucky, playing that song was right here in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Of course the crowd went wild with cheers and screams. Dustin then asked the crowd if he could record the crowd singing in the state he first performed the song so he could show everyone. With that, the crowd sang along with the Chorus before erupting in cheers once again.
The connection Dustin has with the crowd is undeniable, a sight to witness. He is a humble performer, at one point in the show paying tribute to all the artists he has opened up for: Brad Paisley (“Mud on the tires"), Keith Urban (“Somebody Like You"), Luke Bryan (“Play it again"), and Florida Georgia Line (“H.O.L.Y.”).
There is no doubt why Lynch is a fan favorite. Between amazing hits, to his ability to connect with the person in the front and the person all the way in the back, to his mega smile. The Ride or Die tour was one of my favorite shows this year. I say the best is yet to come from Lynch. His sold out, first headlining tour is just the beginning of many more. And Dustin, you know all of us in Minnesota will be your Ride or Die crowd!
Justin Moore, Lee Brice and Brett Young brought the Red, White and Blue to Mankato, Minnesota for the AMERICAN MADE tour
by Amanda Olson
On Saturday night, 4/15/2017, at the Verizon Wireless Center, Justin Moore brought the manpower on board! Up and coming California native, Brett Young, and well known artist and songwriter, Lee Brice, took the stage before Moore made his appearance. Emily Huehns had the chance to talk to Moore. He said that life on the road is not what you would expect it to be and that he tries to play as much golf as possible. He enjoys sharing the stage with Brice and Young. He has been friends with Brice for a while and has gotten to know Young a lot better. This is the second time he has performed at the Verizon Wireless Center. He says it's always good to be back in Mankato because the fans are great! The best part of performing is knowing that the fans are having a great time and there is great connection. Moore's main focus is to throw the ultimate party each night!
As the lights went out, the crowd hollered as band members took position. Familiar music started to play, (In Da Club by 50 Cent) and the hands started clapping along with the flashing lights. Finally, the 6 foot 6 heartthrob, Brett Young, walked on to the stage.
"I can't get you close enough, can't get you close enough"
Young opened with the song, Close Enough, and is the first track off of his self-titled, debut studio album.
Brett continued to interact with the crowd, sharing personal stories and the reasoning behind his music. He had plenty of heartbreak which led him to write "You Ain't Here To Kiss Me" and "Left Side of Leavin". He even quoted Calhoun Tubbs, "Wrote a song about it, like t'hear it? Here it goes," before strumming his guitar and continuing with his set.
"In Case You Didn't Know" is his second single off of his album. When I first saw Brett, he opened for Brett Eldredge back in October of 2016. I said that this song will be the wedding song of 2017. Before belting out this love song, he thanked his fans for requesting it and for letting him do what he loves. It gave me goosebumps listening to the crowd sing along!
He ended his set with his first single "Sleep Without You".
After the road crew set up for the next set, Lee Brice finally took the stage and opened with "Little Things".
I have seen Lee Brice before at TreeTown and when he opened for Luke Bryan. He definitely knows how to get the crowd going! I was used to seeing him in a backwards ball cap, but he was sporting a hat with a feather for half of his set.
The next few songs led a huge sing along. The crowd belted out "Hard to Love" and "Love like Crazy". We even got a glimpse of some new tunes he may be putting on his next album. I really liked the songs "Songs in the Kitchen" and "Boy". That man really knows how to make music!!
One of the coolest parts of the night was right before he sang "I Drive Your Truck". A wounded warrior and his family were brought on stage and were given a home through a foundation dedicated to supporting wounded heroes and their families. Lee also gave a shoutout to all those that have served, currently serving, EMS crews and police forces.
Lee recognized one of his bandmates for being by his side for 10 years. They toasted over a glass of champagne, while Lee took a swig from the bottle.
Lee Brice ended his set with his hit song, "Parking Lot Party". As the chorus began, Brett Young joined to finish off the song.
The crowd grew anxious as the minutes went by. Then, the Verizon Wireless Center went black and the fans went crazy! Music started playing and BAM... the man of the hour... JUSTIN MOORE!!
Hit after hit, Justin's energy kept his fans entertained and mesmerized by his talent. He may be 5 foot 7, but that man has some strong and powerful vocals. He brings back the 'twangy' style of the older country music we all miss.
Justin began to tell a story about his grandpa and how "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away" is the one song he is so glad he got to record. He said that if he knew that if this song helped just one person, then he's done his job!
I believe the reason he named his tour American Made is to honor and thank all those that have served and those that are sacrificing everyday to make sure we are safe. He gave a shoutout to the teachers, police officers, EMS workers, etc. He followed up with singing the National Anthem.
When he sang the familiar hit "Till My Last Day", Justin's wife and two oldest girls were on the big screen behind him. He said that the best part of his night is when he can turn around and watch his family.
Even as much as the crowd wanted him to play all night, all good things must come to an end. He then thanked Mankato for a great evening, took off his signature cowboy hat, and did a curtsy.
All in all, if you love country music, make sure you give these great guys a chance!!