Kane Brown, one of the biggest artists in country music, touched down at the KeyBank Center Saturday as he secured another accolade: his song “Homesick” had just hit No. 1 on country radio.
The song, dedicated to members of the armed forces, is a country ballad at its finest.
But the song’s top spot is also indicative of Brown’s star power all around, which he displayed through folk and arena pop bops to a sold-out crowd.
Brown’s global musical rodeo — the “Worldwide Beautiful Tour” — was a rock-driven, country pop delight. Along with country artists Russell Dickerson and Chris Lane, Brown capped off a swinging atmosphere for all ages during his sold-out Buffalo hoedown.
Although the three artists’ versions of country music are distant from George Strait and the Dixie Chicks, they mock up sets full of hearty vocals backed by booming instrumentals in a genre shifting even further to pop.
Surely, old-school country’s transition to the new school is like a baton being handed off in a hypothetical genre race. Brown, Dickerson and Lane are far from slower musical “athletes,” though. Rather, they run to a different beat.
For former “X Factor” contestants Restless Road, Brown’s newly signed boy band of singers who weren’t listed on Saturday’s program, their beat comes in the form of acoustically reflecting back to the past.
As fans began to pack the arena like jackrabbits in a cave on a hot summer day, it was Lane’s turn to power up the crowd. Through fire-hot guitars and a crossover potential alluded to through his performance of his Tori Kelly collaboration, Lane brought a young girl on stage and made his case as an artist to eye for any family-friendly country fest.
After Lane, Dickerson appeared in an undoubtedly goofy manner; a performance built at times for TikTok-able, Instagram moments. On one hand, the singer did the shoot dance, twerked and would often tease fans as he unwrapped his shirt. On the other hand, his pop-happy choruses and charisma helped drive applause from the Buffalo crowd. His performance of “Yours” was a crowd favorite which they appeared to have stashed away in the “I’ll marry someone to this song” folder.
As the crowd prepared for Brown, a giant white screen appeared on stage displaying the tour’s name, followed by Daft Punk-like visuals and Brown on a rope sliding down from the ceiling.
He broke out into Justin Timberlake-type dances at times amid rock-backed songs like “Lose It” and “Found You.” As talented as Brown is as a hype man, his strong suit is his acoustic songs like “For My Daughter” and “Homesick,” which he played with grace in a sea of lights behind him.
Following some shredded violin bow, a thoughtful banjo cameo and a lucky little girl’s reappearance on stage with Brown, he broke into twang-led covers of “Drift Away” and “Crank That (Soulja Boy).” Brown brought back earlier performers Lane and Dickerson for a heavy performance of his song “Pull It Off.” It led to his inevitable finale, with a dubstep-filled “One Thing Right” and a much mellower ditty “Good As You.”
Brown is a top dog.
Like other performers Saturday, difference mattered and it’s something country fans in Buffalo were willing to embrace.
Benjamin Blanchet is the senior engagement editor for The Spectrum. His words have been seen in The Buffalo News (Gusto) and The Sun newspapers of Western New York. Loves cryptoquip and double-doubles.