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Pollstar – Kane Brown Knocks It Out of The Park At Fenway: Live Review
The play-up music before the support acts was a certain kind of contemporary country from the ’80s and ’90s, but the tune changed as darkness settled on Fenway Park. Suddenly Tupac’s “California Love” and “Jump Around” were floating – like the anticipation – through the air.
Kane Brown, the genre-straddling country force who’s sold out every NBA basketball arena in America, was on the verge of becoming the first Black artist to headline the home of the Boston Red Sox. As comfortable recording with Khalid, Swae Lee, H.E.R. and Marshmello as he is with Chris Young, Lauren Alaina and his own wife Katelyn, this audience reflected not just the diversity, but the joy Brown imbues in his music.
Young, old, Black, white, Latin, Asian, hipster, fratty, LGBTQ+ and folks just like your uncle Buster were thigh-to-thigh on the infield; arms aloft, they often took whole chunks of Brown’s songs. Whether No. 1 songs on country radio, viral jams or hits on other genre’s streaming platforms, the crowd knew everything in his 17-song “Drunk or Dreaming Tour” set list.
Starting with a red stage, steam and fire blasts, what could’ve been a heavy-handed hard rock tableau was tempered by Brown ambling onstage in a Sox shirt, good-natured smile tempered with awe on his face. “Lose It,” the night’s opener, was the perfect note to strike. A song about being actualized by another, this show – and all that it meant – was a witness to a slow build that focused on music, going to the fans and creating a connection that transcended all the star-making hype and empty jargon that is often used to conjure superstars.
This was a moment of recognition, of being seen for who you are – and being thrilled at the prospect of what that means. For Brown, an outlier with a melted toffee voice suited to classic country, it was also a moment of reminding people to trust your music if only for the joy it provides; to lean into things that feel good and empower you.
Throughout the night – without ever lecturing or being pedantic – Brown would find ways to slip the story of his journey to this historic night into his onstage raps. Telling kids about being a fifth year senior, begging to graduate and not having to get his GED, reminding them how hard it is “so when you have a choice about doing something bad, go the other way.”
Going the other way, Brown knows, isn’t easy. He spoke of his father being incarcerated since 1996, 15 schools, a redneck kid who taunted him, shouting “Hey, N-word, you better not screw up this song…” before performing – and winning – his school’s talent show with Chris Young’s “Gettin’ You Home.” He told it all, but never as a downer; more to delivered a witness for anyone in Fenway who might be struggling.
But that’s not even truly the point.
Kane Brown has come into his own as a performer. Easy, fluid, able to let the audience crest and surf on the songs he performs, he allows his shows to be a place for them to have their own magic moments. He understands people want the euphoria, something he delivers.
Whether the downhome, do-si-do twangery of “Like I Love Country Music,” the minor-keyed emo-metal of “Bury Me In Georgia,” the silky “Heaven,” which he performed walking through the crowd or the sweeping, slightly stop-start country “One Mississippi,” he wrapped the music around the crowd and brought them through all the genre-tilts without missing a moment.
Leaving room – especially with a stadium-sized show – is a tricky proposition. With a clean stage, marked by four vertical video screens used for dimension as much as live action capture, there was room to take in Brown, whichever musicians were down front soloing or the larger tableaus being presented.
That economy stretched to his band: often only one guitarist or featured musician was as likely to drive a song as his full band. Creating dynamics, there was never a teeter on the Beavis & Butthead rawk overkill meter. Everything played mattered. Rhythms, especially when they shifted, were crisp and forward. Most especially, the musical elements had a torque that stood up to the night in a way that really penetrated the conscious.
Also reflecting Brown’s own aesthetic as an engaged human, “Memory,” a trying to cope, barely hanging on ballad, provided an early highlight. For those people not sure how to get through, he delivered it with subtle passion to suggest he knows the struggle, understands futility, but believes there are always reasons to persevere, to survive long enough to thrive.
Not long after, he moved through the crowd to a satellite stage behind the sound board where he sang the pained “Used To Love You Sober,” the song that launched him. Like “Memory,” it acknowledged modern day Haggard heartbreak templates. In the middle of the outfield, it was a scale that reminded the sold-out crowd how small he was when that song happened.
More, though, Brown brought the fun. He did an homage to growing up country, as well as surrounded by a houseful of women, dropping into a frisky “Redneck Woman,” which he bookended with “Friends In Low Places.” Then he added his own “Short Skirt Weather,” which mined the basic boy-celebrates-hotties Bro Country notion, to the mix.
That interlude provided a karaoke glory opportunity for him to tell the crowd to be like his younger self, saying they’d put the words to his first No. 1 on the screens, so the fans could take over “my first No. 1.” A glorious tangle of hard rock guitar, lumbering hip-hop beats and a banjo churned the perfectly country melody of “What Ifs.” The crowd not only knew what to do, when the song was technically over, they just kept going as the Tennessee/Georgia-raised performer laughed.
That delight tempered everything. With an interlude to switch gears, new age soul music filled the air, the stage went dark and a host of boughs with leaves emerged from the lighting rig.
When Brown returned to the stage, his wife Katelyn emerged in a sparkly black mini dress and tailored Red Sox jersey, the show’s culminating songs became an act of true love that was as deep as what we’ve come to expect from those moments when Beyoncé and Jay-Z (who co-headlined Fenway with Justin Timberlake in 2013 on their “Legends of the Summer Stadium Tour”) merge their own musical realities.
But where the Carters are a high impact entertainment force, the Browns are more innocent kids finding their way. What the men share is deep love of their women, a desire to lift them up to excel and exhibit all the ways love delivers a better life. For a kid from a broken childhood marked with love, Brown’s music validates how loving the right one is like breaking free.
Starting with their duet “Thank God,” the final few songs brought that home. Adding openers Restless Road for the free-for-all “One Mississippi,” then culminating in “Good As You,” a jammy, sleek soul ballad that closed the night, the sobering moments of the “Drunk Or Dreaming Tour” stop never bogged down the good feelings. Instead, he uses those good feelings to create a reason to not stray to from where leading a good life takes you.
To that end, Brown tapped Darius Rucker, a fellow Black groundbreaker in the rock and country space, as direct support. A former arena rock headliner, Rucker knew how to move the crowd where he wanted them, deploying Hootie & the Blowfish classics as well as his own country No. 1s. But Rucker’s real gift in the space is his willingness to get truly, really, absolutely country.
While “Hold My Hand” and “I Only Wanna Be With You” had the expected effect, it was his set-closing “Wagon Wheel” that made the park explode. For one song, all were one, churning and screaming along to the country/Americana “Margaritaville.” One of the most cornpone songs in the world of roots music, Rucker had a multiple week No. 1 with it, demonstrating his willingness to be the guy who keeps hardcore country on the radio.
Like Brown, who makes music beyond genre and color lines, he delivers music true to his soul and essence. It is a testament to both performers’ willingness to use music to transcend that marks each of their highly successful careers. In doing so, they light the way for plenty – hopefully – to follow.
The Boston Globe – Kane Brown is on his game at Fenway Park
Since self-releasing videos that showcased his deep voice and love of country music in the mid-2010s, Kane Brown has become one of Nashville’s biggest stars — although he’s done it by forging his own path and bucking Music Row’s conventions. On Friday night at Fenway Park, he tore through a set of his hits — and unsurprisingly, there were a few curveballs in the mix.
Brown had a tumultuous, musically omnivorous youth in Tennessee and Georgia, which he discussed during a mid-set revue-style rundown of his biography; he went to “like 15 different schools,” he said, and dealt with racism (he is biracial) and bullying. He eventually made his way into the music business; after he left the American version of “The X Factor”over creative differences, he began posting covers of Nashville hits online, and his deep voice and affable charm got him enough traction to lead to a record deal. Brown’s obviously a student of country music, a fact he made plain on Friday with original cuts like the electro-swamp stomp “Bury Me In Georgia” and the winking “Short Skirt Weather,” as well as a rollicking run through Garth Brooks’s “Friends in Low Places.”
He also uses the tenets of country music — relatable storytelling, big hooks — to turn it into a big tent, whether it’s through collaborating with the masked pop-EDM hitmaker Marshmello on the appreciative “One Thing Right,” combining the sing-song cadences of emo-rap on the anxiety snapshot “Memory” (a collaboration with the similarly catholic producer and songwriter blackbear), or showcasing the sugary upper register of Swae Lee, one-half of the brotherly hip-hop duo Rae Sremmurd, on the crazy-in-love portrait “Be Like That.” Brown’s muscular band handled the fluidity with aplomb, dropping pyrotechnic guitar solos and delicate banjo playing when the moment called for it.
While Brown’s genre-bending makes him a compelling artist, he shines most brightly when he’s expressing the joy of being in love, with his resonant baritone tailor-made for adding extra emotional heft to proclamations of devotion. He performed his 2017 breakthrough single “Heaven” (which opens right in the middle of the action, with Brown coaxing his beloved to bestow another kiss on him) while walking around the Fenway infield, shaking stretched-out hands, and leading an enthusiastic singalong.
“Thank God,” a duet with his wife, Katelyn, that reached the Billboard Hot 100′s top 20 earlier this year, opened his encore, and Brown seemed as excited to have his spouse appear in front of the Fenway crowd as he did to headline his current tour’s largest venue. A sweet, spare ballad that splits the sonic difference between stripped-down early-’90s hits like Mr. Big’s “To Be With You” and modern acousti-pop by the likes of Jason Mraz, “Thank God” revels in the chemistry of its two leads as they thrill in finding each other, Kane Brown’s burr and Katelyn Brown’s winsome drawl complementing each other beautifully.
Boston.com – Country star Kane Brown rocks Fenway Friday
Brown released his premiere EP “Closer” in 2015, after building up a following on Facebook the previous year.
Kane Brown came to Fenway Park Friday night as one of the stops in his “Drunk or Dreaming” tour.
Brown released his premiere EP “Closer” in 2015, after building up a following on Facebook the previous year.
The album became a viral success, selling 3,200 copies in its debut week.
Here is the setlist from the concert, according to wiki setlist.fm.
- Lose it
- Like I Love Country Music
- Play Video
- Famous Friends by Chris Young
- Memory Be Like That
- Used to Love You Sober
- Bury Me In Georgia
- One Thing Right
- Friends In Low Places / Redneck Women
- Short Skirt Weather
- What Ifs
- Thank God
- One Mississippi
- Good As You
Hits Daily Double – KANE BROWN KNOCKS IT OUT OF THE PARK
Kane Brown made history Friday night (6/23) when he became the first Black artist to singlehandedly headline Boston’s Fenway Park (JAY-Z co-headlined there with Justin Timberlake in 2013). Brown was joined by Darius Rucker, Gabby Barrett and Restless Road for the historic show, his biggest yet. More than 35k fans packed the storied venue to see the RCA Nashville star. Seen shortly before a hearty meal of Fenway Franks are (l-r) Rucker, Brown, Restless Road’s Zach Beeken, Garret Nichols and Colton Pack.
Music Row – Kane Brown Plays Largest Headlining Show Yet
Kane Brown marked a major milestone this weekend when he performed at Boston’s Fenway Park. Playing to over 35,000 fans, it was the entertainer’s largest career headlining show to date.
The show also marked the first time a Black artist has headlined the historic ball park solo. Brown was joined by Darius Rucker, Gabby Barrett and Restless Road for the historic night on his “Drunk or Dreaming Tour.”
The milestone comes as the newest of Brown’s recent career achievements. The singer-songwriter just celebrated his multi-week No. 1 with his wife Katelyn, “Thank God,” while his current single, “Bury Me in Georgia,” is rising on the charts. Earlier this year, he was nominated for Entertainer of the Year at the ACM Awards for the first time in his career.
Brown’s “Drunk or Dreaming Tour” follows the success of his “Blessed & Free Tour,” during which he visited all 29 NBA basketball arenas, making him the first country artist in history to headline every NBA basketball arena in a single tour and one of only 10 other country acts to sell out Los Angeles’ Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center).