Two sold out shows at Joe’s Bar on January 7 and 8 marked the first shows of 2016 for Dustin Lynch and the Hell of a Night Tour. With his brand new single, “Mind Reader” fresh to country radio listeners, the highly motivated rising country star chose this “break” from touring as an opening artist for Luke Bryan (he will join forces with Bryan again next month) to launch his very first headlining tour, and it is an experience that will show you exactly what it means to have one Hell of a Night!
Joining Lynch on the Hell of a Night Tour is Tyler Rich, an upcoming country artist from California, currently living in Nashville. Rich took the stage in a lights-dimmed, acoustic set-up, with just himself, his guitar, and his – no pun intended – rich vocals. His set consisted of a few original songs, including “Turn It Up” and “California Grown” mixed with George Strait’s “Check Yes or No” and Ginuwine’s “Pony,” classic crowd-pleasers that didn’t disappoint.
Between Rich’s acoustic set and the expertly mixed beat drops from DJ Hish between artists, the crowd was amped up for Big Loud recording artist Chris Lane to take the stage!
Lane and his band erupted with a vivacious performance of “Broken Windshield View,” his edgy country hit and early fan favorite. Lane’s set continued with music from his brand new EP, including his sanguine spirited single, “Fix,” that is currently impacting country radio. It’s clear that not only country music, but pop music influenced Lane, as he weaved in a throwback mash-up of Nsync and Backstreet Boys into his set, and the crowd ate it up! What impressed me most while observing him, is that he danced around, snapped selfies with everyone in reach, and still managed not to miss a beat, even while singing delicate falsettos.
Lane’s enthusiasm never ceased as he nailed his set, preparing the way for Dustin Lynch. Earlier this fall, I interviewed Lane for #CMchat, and in regards to performing his new music on the Hell of a Night Tour, he said, “I wanted songs that felt great and would make people dance and sing along. I hope that people who show up, end up really enjoying the show.” Goal achieved, Chris Lane!
After another intermission with entertainment from DJ Hish, the intro to “To The Sky” began as Dustin Lynch dashed on stage and was greeted by a roaring welcome from the crowd. His beaming grin and contagious energy propelled through a familiar song mix from his two albums, followed by a medley of older country songs, which included “John Deere Greene,” “Meet in the Middle,” and “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.”
If you’ve been following Lynch since his pre-“Where It’s At” days, you’ll be happy to know that he has listened to his fans and brought back a few songs that were largely requested from his previous shows such as “Hurricane,” a slow paced, intriguing song that he wrote about a girl who broke his heart, and “Name on It,” a party anthem that he also penned and was inspired by a Justin Moore concert experience.
One thing Lynch never fails to acknowledge is how grateful he and his band are for the opportunity to do what they do. As his band exited the stage for a break, he told us a story, “For some time, before ever having the opportunity to play here, I had been hearing about everyone going to Joe’s in Chicago to play. I wondered about it, and now, playing here quite a few times now, I understand why everyone comes to Joe’s to play. Not only that, but the third radio station I ever laid foot in was right here in Chicago.” He proceeded to strum a few chords and performed an acoustic, stripped down version of “Cowboys and Angels,” which he said was the exact same way he played it when he first pitched it to radio. I think everyone in attendance got happy chills as they cheered and sang along.
Some headliners choose to bring their openers out again during the show to sing a song or two, but for the Hell of a Night Tour, Lynch put his own “spin” on things! He called out Tyler Rich and Chris Lane, and introduced a spinning wheel of karaoke. He invited a fan on stage to help, giving her three whirls on the spinning wheel. Songs selections on the wheel ranged from Beyonce to Billy Ray Cyrus. On this particular occasion, we watched Tyler Rich and Chris Lane (clad in a Macklemore inspired fur coat for our entertainment) join Lynch (who gave us a bonus clip of him singing “Thrift Store,” through chuckles brought on by Lane’s attire) to perform “Achey Breaky Heart,” “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” and “Indian Outlaw.”
Lynch’s first No. 1 single, “Where It’s At” seemed to be the final song of the set, as a blow up raft with Lynch inside made its way over the heads of the audience in a crowd surfing phenomenon! After a few encore chants, “Hell of a Night,” Dustin’s second single to reach No. 1, appropriately closed out an absolutely outstanding night.
Dustin Lynch, with the help of his band, has an impeccable ability to engage and entertain the audience that is reminiscent of something you would see at a Garth Brooks concert, years ago. A performance so unique that it will burn into your memory for a lifetime. It’s something that can’t be expressed with words alone, an event you need to experience for yourself!