Country comes to Compton
Meghan Thomassen | Sunday, November 18, 2012
Montgomery Gentry played Compton Hockey Arena on Oct. 16 at Notre Dame’s Ice Country Music Fest, with Eden’s Edge and Florida Georgia Line opening the night. With a promising lineup and an enthusiastically dressed audience, it seemed like Compton was in for a memorable evening.
Eden’s Edge started with an attention grabbing a capella cover of “We Are Young,” by the band Fun. Their lead singer, Hannah Blaylock, belted out some classics and a few of the band’s most popular songs, such as “Amen,” “Too Good to be True” and “Swingin’ Door.”
Their style combines Taylor Swift’s angsty pop twist on country with a darker, more sophisticated resonance similar to Lady Antebellum. Blaylock did a commendable job of trying to amp up the crowd for the entire night, but sometimes came off sounding more like a self-promoting MC than a lead vocalist.
Unfortunately, the older audience didn’t know the words to the rest of their songs, and the band’s talented lead singer spent the rest of her time on stage without too many memorable moments. Even though their vivacious and heart-felt opening was well-performed, the audience was more excited for the following opener, Florida Georgia Line.
Florida Georgia Line, which was arguably more popular than the band they were supposed to be opening for, enjoyed a generous welcome. Their recent hit single, “Cruise,” from their album “Here’s the to Good Times” currently sits at the No. 2 spot on the U.S. Country charts.
Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley were a force on stage and worked the crowd with a showmanship and expertise, dropping down into the audience and dancing through the aisles. The duo engaged the audience with great stage antics and more recognizable songs. Favorites included “Summer Jam” and “Get Your Shine On”. Their grungy, sweet southern-boy sound was definitely the highlight of the night.
Montgomery Gentry rode out the rest of the night with their hits “Hell Yeah” and “Something to be Proud Of” and their most recent record, “Where I Come From”. Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry, who put out their first album in 1999, were energetic and electric, twirling their microphones around and jumping with the crowd.
Their rock-and-roll inspired songs were loud and brassy, but echoed a southern gentility with their virtuosic voices. One of their more sentimental, slower singles, “My Town” reflected strong family values despite their bold reputations.
A small portion of Notre Dame’s country aficionados showed up in their hoedown finest, ready to dance and croon the night away. The majority of the crowd, however, were not students, and spent the rejoinder of the evening seated passively in the bleachers.
Long gaps in between sets and oppressive lighting in the seats made it hard to get into a groove. One bright spot in the otherwise unappreciative crowd were the occasional pairs of line-dancers and swing-dancers that made their own fun on the concourse. The concertgoers were spread throughout the cavernous facility, which is supposed to hold 5,000, making the event seem under-attended and unappreciated.
Furthermore, the ushers prevented those stuck in cheaper seats to fill in the obviously empty pit below. Concerts are supposed to be an immersive, interactive experience – especially at country concerts, where everyone knows the words and line dances, even if they don’t know how. An ice rink might work as a concert venue if every seat was sold out, but the terrible acoustics combined with the vast discrepancy in seating alienated half the audience from the bands’ performances before they had a chance to strum a chord.
Overall, the concert was toe-tapping and laid-back – probably too laid back considering the caliber of the musicians. The potential for a rock-and-roll night of country was there, but the odd crowd and inappropriate facility left the night feeling lackluster.
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