The country music scene is thriving in Western New York and never is that more apparent than when Florida Georgia Line comes to town.
The duo played a sold-out show Friday at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, the latest stop on their “Dig Your Roots” tour.
Fans of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley came early and came ready to party. They were treated to Cole Swindell, The Cadillac Three and Kane Brown, who teamed up to get the party started.
Swindell offered up a set that was headliner-worthy highlighted by a mix of hits, including his anthem against exes, “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey,” and “Chillin’ It,” the song that first put the Georgia native on the map. His latest single, “Middle of a Memory,” earned a well-deserved boot-stomping reaction from the crowd.
Dressed in black jeans and a t-shirt, Swindell brought a genuine aw-shucks feel to his set, thanking the fans after every song and signing hats tossed on stage, all with a mile-wide grin on his face.
But the crowd north of 20,000 strong came to see FGL and, shortly before 9:30, the lights went down and the hottest country duo in America made their entrance in grand fashion – lowered to the stage from the rafters aboard lighting platforms as they opened with, “This is How We Roll.”
From there, the night only got hotter. Set to a backdrop of pyrotechnics and inflatable trees (an ode to their album, “Dig Your Roots,” which dropped the day of the show), FGL showcased their depth as artists, no more than on their 2014 No. 1 hit, “Dirt,” a song that captures the softer side of love.
Likewise, their current No. 1 hit, “Holy,” which the duo dedicated to their wives, took the decibel level in the performing arts center off the charts.
But the highlight of the evening was the unveiling of FGL’s title track from their new album, “Dig Your Root,” which tells the tale (beautifully) of the importance of family and never forgetting where you come from.
In an age where country music can feel like one long game of beer pong and whiskey shots, Hubbard and Kelley left no doubt as to why they are the kings of country music.
When FGL played Darien Lake in 2015, I offered a less than glowing review of the show, describing the feel of the evening as, “very manufactured,” opining that it lacked the authentic feel of a true country show.
I also noted how genuinely Kelley and Hubbard interact with their fans from the stage, and the 2016 show held true to both elements. The difference is perspective.
Today’s bro-country is never going to be mistaken for seeing Merle Haggard, Hank Williams or Willie Nelson live, but it doesn’t mean it can’t make for a great evening of music entertainment.
On an evening celebrating the launch of the duos latest album, FGL delivered an unforgettable evening of rockin’ bro-country that left 22,000 die-hard fans wanting for nothing – except the band’s next tour stop in Western New York.