Chase Rice’s latest album, Ignite the Night, debuted at number one on Billboard’s Top Country Albums and is likewise the name of his current headlining tour. I had the opportunity to attend one night of this anticipated tour on November 20, 2014 at the House of Blues in Chicago, Illinois.
First up was Special Guest Michael Ray. I had been hearing positive buzz about this dude, so my expectations were very high. His set started out strong, lights dimmed,full band, playing a buoyant melody, welcoming Michael to the stage where his energy took over the show. He played a few upbeat original songs that all had a country rock twist, making it impossible not to move your body to the beat. If you’re familiar with Brantley Gilbert’s original version of “Dirt Road Anthem” then you’re probably one of the only people who knows his special “rap verse”. Michael Ray won over many hearts when he popped that version out at rapid speed, while sitting on the edge of the stage. Fans cheered him on as he rolled into an acoustic set including my personal favorite, “Folsom Prison Blues”. He continued by featuring some Snoop Dogg “Gin and Juice” and Lil Jon “Get Low” before closing the acoustic set with the end of the famous Johnny Cash jam. I always appreciate when breaking artists throw in some fun singalong throwbacks to get the crowd involved. Closing out, he sang the David Lee Murphy classic, “Dust on the Bottle” and let me just say that by the end of his 45 minute set, he had not only won me over, but every person in my general area was talking about how much he rocked and how excited they were to see him again! Kudos, Michael Ray! You can catch him on tour this SPRING with the one and only Sam Hunt on his Lipstick Graffiti Tour.
In the midst of the enthusiastic crowd chatter, the lights dimmed and the countdown began for the man we had all been anticipating, only a short twenty minutes after Michael Ray finished up. Red lights flashed as the band members took their spots on stage, each playing their part in the melody of “Do It Like This”. “That old foreign road, that’s where we go…” lyrics bursted in the room as Chase Rice kicked off his set, rocking his HDEU ball cap and Whiskey Jam hoodie. It’s safe to say that at this point every pair of legs in the room were jumping in excitement, as he broke into another new song, “50 Shades of Crazy”. During this song, Chase welcomed himself to Chicago and sensually stripped his hoodie to the fitting words suggesting, “you set a fire up and down my skin as your fingertips go scraping” to reveal a Chicago Bears t-shirt underneath. Extra brownie points!
“Whoa” is one of the first songs that Chase started playing at shows, so now he has become a bit more creative with it! He bought a machine that measures the decibels of sound and threw out an appropriately rousing competition between the left and right side of the venue as to who could get loudest. Winner: right side. This led into another one of his older songs, “I Like Drinking Cause It’s Fun” to keep the momentum going.
Mr. Rice has been a songwriter for longer than he’s been recognized as a performer. That is something that I truly admire about artists. When they write their own music, there is a special connection to the portrayal while they perform it and that is one of the elements about watching Chase perform that makes it to so intriguing. He spoke to us about how his life has changed significantly this past year. Songs like “Beachtown” which he wrote on this album, have been reminders every time he performs them, of the small town he comes from and the importance of staying grounded in a fast paced life. He then dedicated it to anyone who is from a small town like himself. “Gonna Wanna Tonight” is the second single off of Ignite The Night, and though it is one of only FOUR songs that Chase didn’t have his hand in writing for the album, it is one of the catchiest tunes and was a pleasure to see it come to life live on stage.
At the halfway point, Chase’s band took a break while he showcased an acoustic set including “Jack Daniels and Jesus”, “The Dance” in which Chase made known that he thinks Garth is “the greatest artist ever” followed by his rendition of “Ride”. In his attempt to specially connect with his fans, he brought a girl on stage to serenade her via the sexy lyrics “kiss your body from the tip top all the way down to your feet.” Needless to say, she was bright red, but shamelessly loving every minute of it! His band returned to the stage to help him close out the song, he kissed her cheek, and continued right along into another new song, “U-turn”.
As if there wasn’t enough energy radiated from the sold out crowd, Chase introduced his band while having his guitarists pick sides again for a renewal contest on which side of the venue could cheer louder. The right side sang along to the chorus of “She F***** Hates Me” by Puddle of Mudd, while the left side “losers” tried to redeem themselves with a rowdy version of “What’s My Age Again?” by Blink 182. Chase was about to get his decibel device out, when suddenly, another guitar player cuts in and says “HEY! This is supposed to be a country show. Let me show you how it’s done”. I think we all know what happened next. “Blame it all on my roots…” resonated and the famous Garth Brooks singlalong filled the venue in all of its glory. Well played. After playing “That’s How She Rolls” Chase bid everyone goodnight and exited the stage, leaving us all wanting more.
Without warning, an exclusive Chase Rice interview thundered from the speakers as the stage became dark and empty and it was revealed to us that “Jack Daniels and Jesus” is the song that Chase wrote in which he finds most meaningful. Next, Chase reveals that four words during a songwrite with Cole Swindell, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard changed his entire life. Those four words, “Baby you a song” gave the entire room chills when spoken by Mr. Rice as smoke once again filled the stage, lights flashed and fireworks shot up in an encore performance of “Cruise”. Michael Ray also made an appearance to help Chase perform this smash hit. Last but not least, “Ready Set Roll” gave the fans one more chance to sing along to his #1 single as Chase closed out an exuberant night in Chicago!
But the night was not over.
The famous Joe’s Bar resides on Weed Street, 13 minutes driving distance from the House of Blues in Chicago. Upcoming country artist, Cole Taylor, rocked the afterparty there with an upbeat set comprised of everything from his orginal songs to “Look At My Truck” which he co-wrote with Chase Rice. He continued with a nostalgic medley of songs he listened to as a preteen and teenager with his buddies, including “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. I thoroughly enjoyed his country twist on that- incredible! Also included in that mix was the unforgettable boy band hit ‘I Want It That Way” in which every head in attendance bopped to the lyrics and every mouth egged on by beer shouted the words right along. Cole laughed in accordance as he stated “It sounds like we all grew up listening to the same kind of music!” Also in attendance at this afterparty was the incredible Whiskey Jam creator, Josh Hoge, there to support his buddies Michael Ray and Chase Rice prior to this event. Lots of Whiskey Jam love exists out here in the 312! Cole shouted out to Josh Hoge and what do you know, Michael Ray was standing right next to him, casually chatting up with some fans while listening to Cole Taylor wrap up a intimate afterparty.
After exiting the stage, Cole returned to the stage, grabbed a mic, asked for his band back and announced that he didn’t want the show to end without a singalong. Michael Ray then raced to the stage, his crew supportively tagging along. They joined the audience as Michael hopped on stage. Michael and Cole united in a spontaneous duet cover of “How Country Feels” and absolutely slayed it! What a surprise performance to remember!
There are still a few dates left on the Ignite the Night Tour, so grab your tickets if you haven’t already!
I love to share concert experiences! Tweet me @Tierabolt with your pictures or what upcoming concerts you’re looking forward to!