A sold-out crowd, five famous country musicians and good old-fashioned storytelling are a few things that fans got to experience at UB last week.
The annual “Stars with Guitars” event, presented by Country 106.5 WYRK and Transitowne auto group, took place at UB’s Center for the Arts on Wednesday. Country music stars Chase Rice, Hailey Whitters, Randy Houser, Joe Nichols and Brian Kelley took the stage for a two-hour acoustic extravaganza.
Chase Rice opened the show before passing the mic to Randy Houser. All five stars sat on stage throughout the entire show — except for when one needed a bathroom break or a shot of tequila. They sang five songs each, taking turns as the show progressed.
At first, not a sound could be heard when walking through the crowd. Fans were mesmerized by the unique concert experience of getting to hear artists play their hits back-to-back.
While most of the show was enjoyable, there were certainly lulls. The crowd seemed disappointed when Brian Kelley didn’t play any hits from his band, Florida Georgia Line.
Kelley is embarking on his solo career at the moment, but he should still know better — obviously his fans want to hear “Cruise,” a Florida Georgia Line track that broke record after record and became one of the biggest country hits in the last two decades.
The crowd became lively again when Hailey Whitters, a relatively new act within the genre, began singing the Buffalo Bills’ fight song, “Shout,” a riff on an Isley Brothers song of the same name. The crowd instantly lit up, with Whitters smiling from ear to ear as the crowd echoed her “Hey-ey-ey-ey.”
Whitters also played “Janice At the Hotel Bar,” a traditional storytelling song about an old woman named Janice from New Jersey. The song sounded like an instant classic. The crowd was intrigued, Whitters was into it, and her vocals soared.
Another highlight was Randy Houser’s performance. His vocals pierced through the venue. During his first song, everyone was silent, taking in every moment, note and breath.
Chase Rice and Joe Nichols, arguably two of the most famous artists there, also connected well with the crowd. At points, both sounded tired and like they had somewhere else to be. Despite this, their songs showcased true country music songwriting at its finest.
The arts desk can be reached at email@example.com