Photos by Maddie Schroeder
Despite the bleak weather outside, country fans flocked to campus Friday night to see country artist Dustin Lynch perform. The show started off with a bang and didn’t falter for a second. The lively music was accompanied by spectacular special effects involving strobe lights and fog.
Opening for Lynch was Tyler Rich, an unsigned artist who played his songs “Find Me in a Jeep” and “California Grown,” as well as covering Toby Keith’s “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” and the Chainsmokers’ “Closer.” Rich performed on the acoustic guitar without any backup. His set wasn’t flashy, but his music still resonated with the excited audience.
After intermission, the crowd, dotted with cowboy hats, was on its feet as soon as the lights went out in the Templeton-Blackburn Memorial Auditorium. They didn’t have to wait long before Lynch appeared on a platform above his drummer’s head. He opened with “One Hell of a Night,” a gold-certified hit, as he tried to warm up the crowd.
“On your feet Athens, come on!” he shouted to the already standing crowd. “We’re gonna have one hell of a night!”
The crowd didn’t need any warming up, however. They were dancing and singing along from the first song to the last, as Lynch performed favorites like “Mind Reader” and “She Cranks My Tractor,” as well as the song that made him famous, “Cowboys and Angels.” That song, from his self-titled album, made the Billboard’s Top 5 Country Songs of 2012 list, and the album reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart the same year.
While singing his newest single “Seein’ Red,” Lynch took a phone from an audience member and recorded himself performing and the crowd singing along before handing it back to the excited girl. In addition, he played the crowd two slower songs he called “brand new,”entitled “She Loves a Small Town Boy Like Me” and “Love Me or Leave Me Alone,” that he said will be on his new album. Both songs were well received.
Lynch’s charm and good humor helped him keep the crowd’s energy going even when he stumbled, briefly forgetting the lyrics to his song “Halo” and stopping a minute to catch his breath. Still, Lynch smiled through it all, repeatedly thanking the fans for making his dreams come true and telling anecdotes about his experiences and those of his bandmates. He also covered Garth Brook’s “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places” saying, “[Brook]’s the reason I picked up a guitar.”
Lynch closed with “Where It’s At,” his catchy platinum single from 2014. After he and his band took their bows, however, Lynch stayed onstage to sign autographs and take pictures with as many fans as possible before he had to leave.