Things got a little country on Friday night at The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. And by a little country – well, a lot country. The historic venue has played host to a slew of different artists over the years – punk, hip-hop, rock and yes, even the occasional country. There was a magic in the air on Friday night as fans filled up The Varsity to see one of country music’s biggest up & coming name’s – Chris Lane. There was an excitement and energy at The Varsity not always felt at like show. It was clear fans were there for one reason and one reason only – and that was to have a great Friday night with Chris Lane.
Kicking off the evening was Mississippi-native and now Nashville based singer/songwriter Michael Hardy. Though the ticket for the evening was primarily billed as Chris Lane – Michael Hardy was a welcomed addition to the line up. Hardy is an extremely gifted songwriter – who has penned hits for other big names in country – including Florida Georgia Line, Seth Ennis and of course Chris Lane. Hardy’s set included a mix of originals as well as covers including perhaps his biggest hit Up Down. His lyrics are simple, heartfelt and sometimes downright funny. There’s a genuineness to Hardy’s music that is absolutely contagious and you really can’t help but have a beer and dance along to. As a songwriter, it’s clear Hardy has that ability to perfectly capture a moment in just one line or one verse that is so unique yet so relatable – which truly is the beauty of country music. It’s clear Hardy made some news fan on Friday in Minneapolis and we hope to see him back very soon!
Headlining the evening was Chris Lane – a North Carolina native and singer/songwriter that has been making major waves in country music for the last few years. With a few singles under his belt as well as a handful of tours alongside names like Florida Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert and more, it’s clear Lane is well on his way to be one of the biggest names in country. From the moment his set began – he had the crowd at The Varsity absolutely hooked. The crowd was singing along to song after song and it became even more evident why Chris Lane’s musical careers seems on a clear upward trajectory. Not only are Chris Lane’s song catchy, fun, sing-a-longable, but he is an extremely engaging performer. Lane took advantage of the small area between the stage and the crowd and paced back and forth, grabbing hands of adoring fans along the way. In between songs like New Phone, Who Dis and For Her, Lane sprinkled in plenty of commentary and anecdotes. Like Hardy, it’s clear Lane is a storyteller in every sense of the word – whether it’s in his actual songs or the stories in between, Lane can absolutely captivate a crowd.
Chris Lane’s set on Friday night felt like a non-stop party. Again, the energy in The Varsity was unlike most shows – with an extra beer stand set up in the corner there was no shortage of drinks and good vibes to go around . Lane rolled through his set showcasing the breadth and depth of his talent as songwriter, singer and performer. In between the party anthems like Drunk People and All The Right Problems, Lane even stripped things down taking center stage with just his acoustic guitar for a few songs. “Now I don’t get to do this at every show, but I’m glad I get to here,” Lane said before what became the standout moment from his set. Lane went on to introduce each member of his band and each member had their own moment on center stage. Lane’s keyboardist rapped and Lane’s drummer (and twin brother) did a cover of Kenny Chesney’s I Go Back. Not only was it fun to see each member of the band take center stage but it also shows the band is more than just “back up” but an intrical part of Lane’s music.
Before heading into the encore, Lane hopped off stage and came back dawned in a giant Garth Brooks style cowboy hat and did about 25 more minutes of nothing but cover’s of country’s biggest songs including Toby Keith’s Should Have Been A Cowboy and Garth Brooks Friends in Low Places. Lane closed his set with his chart-topping with Take Back Home Girl.