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Florida Georgia Line party looks grim

Honda Center, Anaheim, Cal., September 7, 2017

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Florida Georgia Line opened its show with "Anything Goes," which includes the lines, "Get your party right/It's a Friday night." Granted, this was the day just before Friday, but Florida Georgia Line has built its career around partying songs. In fact, Bryan Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, the two members of FGL, often overtly drank their Old Camp whiskey brand throughout the night, as well as advertising it on the big screens. 'Drink up and have a good time,' could easily be the act's motto.

The biggest trouble with implementing such a good time catch phrase is that these two country hitmakers never even slightly appeared like they were having a good time. Even when they sang a song called "Smile," they weren't smiling at all. Instead, they looked like serious men putting in a hard night's work. By commercial standards, these guys should be on top of the world. So, why didn't they look like they were having any fun?

The name of the act's most recent album is "Dig Your Roots," and the pair illustrated this title with blow-up trees that shot up all over the stage when they sang the title track. The runway jutting out into the audience was also painted with trees. Strangely, though, the music didn't sound particularly roots-y.

Instead, FGL music came off just as pop as the top-40 songs played on the PA before the concert began. The performers sang a few more acoustic numbers from a stage at the back of the arena, including the spiritually-worded "H.O.L.Y.," which - although Hubbard dedicated it to their respective wives, as it's an obvious love song - found many in the audience raising their hands as though this was a worship song being played in church.

If this is truly the party life, partying has never looked so grim.

Rapper Nelly preceded Florida Georgia Line and, honestly, blew the headliners off the stage with a highly energized set. He mixed propulsive raps like "Move that Body," with more thoughtful numbers like "Dilemma." He even sang a love song to a pre-teen girl brought out from backstage. He spoke between songs about how this tour is special, as it brings both black and white music fans together. Music, he said in so many words, is a great unifier. This may have been a country music audience, but you'd be surprised by how many audience members - particularly the girls - knew all the words to these rap songs and danced joyfully/sexily the whole time.

Chris Lane and Russell Dickerson began the show with short sets. Neither one was memorable, and Dickerson's choice to kick off his set with a faux reggae tune should tell you just how far these artists stray from anything resembling traditional country music.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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