The Ritz, Raleigh! Dustin Lynch and Chris Lane
I can go ahead and admit that I do not enjoy contemporary pop-country, right? I adore folk, and I really enjoy Dolly Parton and Lady Antebellum, but compared to the modern vibe of pop-country, they’re folk, or folk fusion. Pop-country the likes of Dustin Lynch, Florida-Georgia Line and Blake Shelton manage to fuse pop appeal with the twangy synth that we’ve all become used to on the radio. I was hoping, at this recent show at The Ritz Raleigh, to see a different side to the pop-country scene. What I saw was… certainly different.
There’s something very different from live music to recorded, no matter the genre. Sometimes it has to do with quality, sometimes you learn that a performer is better or worse live. Other times, the most glaring difference, is left glaring right back at you: the fans.
Never have I been in a crowd which was as drunk and horny as they were mad and fanatic. I’ve been going to concerts since I was 12, all of which varied from pop, to folk; metal to indie; tiny to huge. This crowd was, by far, the most grating. From guests vomiting to machismo fist-fights lasting a couple songs (moved quickly outside by the venue), this crowd was two seconds away from either fornicating or fighting or stealing someone’s truck (dog in tow).
At one point, when moving through the crowd near the front to retrieve an under-aged audience member, I was stiff-armed by nearly half a dozen women who must have filled their shiny cowboy boots with lead, because they were unmovable as I tried to travel parallel to the stage.
I can understand the fans who fawned over the performers, they sure did have some pretty teeth and looked good in those tight shirts, but let’s just say that’s where the live substance stopped. Chris Lane rounded off a set of songs I won’t remember by tossing out a sing-along medley of mainly hip-hop songs. (I never understand this choice, the mixture of ‘good-ol’ white boys and the presumable irony of singing hip-hop songs. I would compare this to someone who really loves Panda Express buying a Wal-Mart ‘kimono’ to hang on their wall.) Cultural appropriation aside, there was just an uninhibited vibe all around.
On more than four occasions, my partner in crime and I witnessed dry-humping, heavy-petting and possibly wet-petting on the patio (right next to the woman puking). I know how alcohol works, don’t get me wrong, but it takes more than fifteen-dollars worth of booze to get me going in public.
This crowd, something between blue collar and no collar, sure knew how to party in their own way. Dustin Lynch came on and the energy didn’t die down the least bit for his 60+ minute set. Even during the pseudo-encore, there were fights and cops and spilt Bud Light. The Ritz took this rowdy crowd in stride, as they would with any crowd of concert-going newbies. I say this because, upon leaving, I overheard a few women saying “That was the best concert I’ve been to,” which could only mean that they’re comparing it to their first concert: A field trip to Britney Spears’ Britney tour.