It’s been two years since I’ve last seen Dan + Shay headline a show in Michigan and I can confidently say they’ve only gotten better. Their stage set-up has transformed, their band is incredibly talented, and their fan base has expanded more than I thought possible in that short amount of time. I am absolutely one of those “I love the front row” fans but on this day, crowds were waiting outside for hours before the doors opened. Upon seeing the dedication of these fans, opening act Jackie Lee commented “that’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned from this tour. Dan + Shay give everything they can on stage and in return their fans wrap around the building for hours just to get inside. I really hope to build that connection with my fans as my career grows.”
From my prime viewing spot in the balcony of the Royal Oak Music Theatre, I was able to watch the beginning of what I believe will be a long-lasting and successful career of a young country music artist. At the risk of sounding cliché, I want to say that Jackie Lee has that “It factor.” Singing with only a guitar in front of a sold out crowd of 2,000 people is no easy task and Jackie Lee kept the audience attentive for the entirety of his short set. Performing his current single “Getting Over You” had fans singing lyrics back in no time and there was even a surprise appearance by Jackie Lee’s younger brother who sang a verse of “Leave The Light On.” When I asked Jackie Lee if he had any goals for his performance each night he replied, “There’s kind of an invisible wall when I’m on stage looking out at a crowd…to be able to break that down and get people singing and just let them know, ‘hey I see you,’ that’s the connection I want to build.”
That’s the connection Dan + Shay have with their fans. Opening the show with the energetic “All Nighter,” the duo had a set that hit 10 as soon as they stepped out on the stage and the room had a buzz that seemed to never die. As the night progressed, songs from their sophomore album such as “Road Trippin” and “Already To Go” kept the crowd entertained and were well incorporated between more popular radio tracks such as “Nothin’ Like You,” “Show You Off,” and “From The Ground Up.” The pure joy evident from Dan + Shay’s faces as the sold out crowd sang back song after song was truly a great experience. The transparency of how much they appreciate what they do for a living is something I hope everyone will notice if they attend one of these shows.
Not only were Dan + Shay repeatedly thanking the crowd for their enthusiasm and constant support, they invited Adam Hambrick, co-writer of “How Not To,” on stage so he could experience the absolute magnetism of a crowd singing back his own words. This was the moment my camera’s battery decided to run out of charge and I regret not getting a better video of this moment, but it is something I will remember for a very long time. The sheer volume of the crowd on this night for this particular song was incredible. Ending the night with the song that started it all, “19 You And Me” may have given the Royal Oak Music Theatre cause to invest in a new roof.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to this show when I first saw the announcement for it months ago. I’m glad I decided to make that trip. Looking back on it now, I can clearly remember the last thing Jackie Lee said to me before the night really took off. “Whether I make them laugh with my stories or win them over with my voice, I want people to remember me.” Well Jackie Lee, and I have to say this applies to Dan + Shay as well…