Guest Review: Luke Bryan’s Dirt Road Diaries Tour

Submitted by Eric Proffitt

(September 12, 2013) – 1 concert, 1 stage, 1 night, 3 headlining acts!! Country superstar Luke Bryan brought his first major headlining tour to Intrust Bank Arena with opening acts Florida-Georgia Line and Thompson Square for one unforgettable show.

ImageFlorida-Georgia Line was technically considered the opening act, but is far from it. Florida-Georgia Line is set to head out on their own headlining tour this fall, just a short time after making their way on the country scene. They released their first single “Cruise” in August of 2012, and in less than a year it had become the best-selling song by a country duo in history. Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard came out with high energy and never slowed down through their set, which also included their second #1 hit “Get Your Shine On” and their current hit “Round Here.”

Two-time vocal duo of the year, Thompson Square, rose up from underneath the stage to dazzle the crowd with “Here’s to Being Here.” They slowed down their set with a touching hit song “Glass” in which they showed video of themselves in a third world country and children holding signs of the words to the song. The song really showed off Shawna Thompson’s powerful voice. The husband and wife duo of Keifer and Shawna Thompson burst onto the scene three years ago with their platinum #1 single “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not,” and had everyone singing along after Keifer said he had a question for the Wichita audience. They finished their almost hour long set with an emotional song “If I Didn’t Have You,” a song written about the loss of Shawna’s father. The duo sounded great, especially so soon after Keifer Thompson was put on emergency vocal rest after surgery on his vocal chords earlier this spring.

At 9:30 the lights went back off and Luke Bryan rose from beneath the stage with only his silhouette visible against the video screen. He came out to the middle of the cross-shaped stage and performed “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” He sang hit after hit, while dancing back and forth on the stage and keeping the energy high. The coolest part of the night was when he was singing a few of his songs from his Spring Break LP and decided to lay down on the stage and take about a dozen cell phones and took “selfies” of himself or with the cell phone owners in the picture with him. Definitely a lifetime of memories for those lucky Luke Bryan fans. Halfway through his set, Florida-Georgia Line joined him on stage for a song, and then Thompson Square joined in for a very fun performance by all 3 acts. The 2013 Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year showed how he earned those honors, with his hip shaking and dancing on stage that made the ladies scream each and every time. He mixed in Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” in the middle of “All My Friends Say” and came back for an encore with his #1 singles “I Don’t Want This Night To End” and “Country Girl (Shake It For Me).”

It was a very high energy show from the very beginning to the absolute end. All three acts were tremendous and we were lucky to have this tour come through our city for one non-stop dance fest night.

This Day in History – August 16, 2011 – Keith Urban

Keith Urban

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Keith Urban stopped by INTRUST Bank Arena on August 16 for his 2011 Get Closer Tour. Keith kicked the night off with “Put You in a Song.” Alongside his own hits, Keith performed covers including “American Girl” and U2′s “With or Without You.” Keith left the crowd wanting more even after his encore.

This Day in History – August 14, 2010 – Dave Matthews Band

Dave Matthews BandImage

The date was August 14, 2010.  The stage was set for Dave Matthews Band’s Summer Tour.  Dave got the arena roaring as the band opened their set with “Minarets.”  Dave and the band went on to play an incredible 19 songs ending the night with “Grey Street.”  This was a night that Wichita will never forget.

Guest Review: Rascal Flatts’ Live & Loud Tour

Submitted by Ashley Dorf

Rascal Flatts has become one of country’s biggest trios. They have released 9 albums, including their greatest hits collection, 26 singles, which have all ranked 20 or higher on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs, and more recently, a successful list of live shows on their most recent tour schedule.

FlattsBlogLead singer Gary LeVox, guitarist Joe Don Rooney and bassist Jay DeMarcus have set out on their Live And Loud Tour, presented By Farmer’s Insurance, to promote their new album “Changed.” The Band Perry and Cassadee Pope, Season 3 winner of the NBC reality singing competition The Voice, were the two opening acts for the show.

When I arrived at 5:00 to pick up my VIP passes, people were already lining up for the doors to open. Many people had signs and shirts to show their admiration for one (or all) of the group. Others sported bandanas, cowboy boots, and tons of merchandise. When I returned later in the evening, the concourses inside were filled with Farmer’s Insurance booths to have a chance at winning some prizes. People were handing out fans with the faces of the band members on it. I was lucky enough to collect all three and complete my mini ensemble! You could also take a picture with “Rascal Flatts” in the photo area, using cardboard cutouts of the band.

I can’t tell much about Cassadee Pope, as I was backstage listening to acoustic performances of Rascal Flatts (that was AMAZING, by the way). I did hear her recent single “Wasting All These Tears” which sounded awesome to my ears.

I was certainly anxious for The Band Perry, having seen them twice before, but both of those times were before “Pioneer” came out. They opened their set with the catchy smash hit “Done”, that certainly got the crowd on their feet! They performed older singles, like “You Lie,” and of course, “If I Die Young,” as well as newer songs from “Pioneer”. Many of the songs were mixed with other artists. “Forever Mine Nevermind,” written with Brad Paisley, was mixed with The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey,” while “All Your Life” included a clip of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.”  They finished with yet another medley, consisting of “Some Nights” by fun. and “Better Dig Two”. Kimberly (Perry) referred to the audience as a “family” and throughout the set, much hand waving, clapping, and boot stomping occurred.

After a break between sets, where I saw Cassadee Pope signing autographs (YAY!), it was Rascal Flatts time! Gary, Joe Don and Jay were off to an upbeat start, with “Life Is A Highway.” The “back” of the stage opened to reveal a platform moving forward with the trio on it. This contraption was used several times throughout the duration of the show. Most of the crowd was on their feet for the first four or five songs, with “Banjo,” “Here’s To You,” “This Everyday Love,” and “Love You Out Loud.” Things dialed down a bit when they played the highly successful song “What hurts The Most.” Cassadee Pope joined Rascal Flatts for “Easy,” a song originally with British recording artist Natasha Bedingfield.

The band continued their show with an inspirational performance of “Stand.”  One of my favorite parts of the night was certainly humorous. When 2008’s “Bob That Head” started to play, large bobbleheads of Gary, Joe Don and Jay appeared on the screen. People in the audience even started to not only bob their heads, but also their fans with the band’s faces!

They ended their regular set with “Fast Cars and Freedom,” but I thought, “This can’t be over yet!” Sure enough, they once again emerged from the side of the stage and sang “My Wish.” Immediately following, the familiar guitar riff of “Summer Nights” began to play. The crowd went insane; people started to clap, stomp their feet, and even slow dance! Before I knew it, the three of them were already back on their platform, going back into the gap in the stage. Of course, no finale is finished without confetti!

Rascal Flatts was a wonderful concert. It certainly kept me going and wondering what was going to happen next. I am so glad that I was able to go to this concert, and I hope to see them again here in Wichita on another tour.

Guest Review #4: Taylor Swift’s Red Tour

Submitted by: Brianna Mullen

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Taylor Poses before the curtain drops

Taylor’s concert Tuesday night kicked off with a fairly short performance by Casey James. He is new to the music scene, (well known for “Let’s Don’t Call it a Night”) and what a way to get started than by touring with Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran?!

Sheeran was the second to perform. Most of his songs had a unique alternative-pop feel, but he also played a beautiful jazz song called “Be My Husband” by Nina Simone. Later, catching the audience off guard, he threw some “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore into another song. Energetic Ed did a fantastic job pumping up the audience for miss Taylor Swift.

Taylor’s entrance to the stage was nothing less than grand with a huge spotlight shining from behind showing her silhouette on a Broadway-like red curtain. After her opening song “State of Grace”, she looks off into the crowd. She frequently gazes off as if taking in what is happening. Sometimes she even gets teary eyed. After pausing, she gave relatable speeches about life, bullies in it, and love. Taylor is harshly criticized in the media for one thing: her relationships. Her struggles are common struggles. She connects with the audience on such a personal level. It brings tears to the eyes in the crowd. I think It’s such an amazing thing that a huge celebrity like her is able to connect with everyone in the room through emotion. Her emotions are in her lyrics.

As for the showmanship of these songs, it’s untouchable. She is the entertainer of the century. Her sound through the years is something that has changed. Starting off in the country genre back with the release of her first album simply titled “Taylor Swift” in 2006, she has moved to the pop genre with “RED”. Her most popular songs “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “22″. Another change was Taylor’s fourth song of the night: a twist on her classic “You Belong With Me”! She performed it in an old-broadway-like girl group style rocking another outfit change- a sparkly sequin red dress.

She rolled on with a total of 10 outfit changes! Halfway through during the song “22″ she paraded to the back stage on dancers shoulders where she surprised us with “Tim McGraw” from her first album and an appearance by Ed Sheeran for “Everything Has Changed”. Swift continued to surprise as she hovered above the audience on a small, round, moving platform back to the front stage during “Sparks Fly”. She played a total of 16 songs for the night (set list below)
1.State of Grace
2.Holy Ground
3.Red
4.You Belong with Me
5.The Lucky One
6.Mean
7.22
8.Tim McGraw
9.Everything Has Changed
10.Begin Again
11.Sparks Fly
12.I Knew You Were Trouble
13.All Too Well
14.Love Story
15.Treacherous
16. She concluded with the song “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”.

Her finale was just like the rest of the night: dazzling.

Guest Review #3: Taylor Swift’s Red Tour

Submitted by: Trisha Adams

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Taylor has the fans seeing “Red”

It was a hot and humid Tuesday in August when Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and Casey James graced Wichita with their presence. The lines outside the arena were clear to the street, every one filled with people dying to see their favorite pop/country crossover star. Everywhere you looked you could see signs and posters covered with glitter bearing lyrics and phrases that were hopefully memorable or unique enough to catch the eye of Taylor, her family or her crew. The doors opened letting the people flow in, a sea of red clothes and sequins flooded the arena ready to live one of the most memorable nights of their lives.

Before the actual show began, fans could shop at the souvenir stand or partake in many of the fun set-ups that allowed people to have photos with pictures of the dazzling Miss Swift or with her costumes which were lined up along the concourse for our viewing pleasure. But the real excitement was in the arena itself where thousands of fans prepared for the fun to come by dancing, screaming, talking, or flashing their signs in hopes that a member of Taylor’s crew or family would come and invite them into the elusive Club Red.

Casey James was the first to perform, his heartfelt set getting fans on their feet to dance and sway with his undeniable beat. After Mr. James left the stage, it was only minutes until Ed Sheeran made his appearance. At first we were a bit baffled, he only had a guitar. There was no band or equipment other than two microphones, one guitar, a foot peddle, and this amazingly talented man. Even though it was only him, he made it sound like there was an entire band backing him by recording beats and chords then replaying them using the foot peddle. Before long he had the entire arena singing along with him, encouraging them that if they didn’t know the words it was ok to improvise. He finished his set to thunderous applause and the eager screams that came from fans knowing what was next.

Now the concert had been great up until this point, but when the lights went down and that sign that spanned the entire stage started flashing the letters R E D, that was when the night took a turn for fantastic! As the sign rose into the air a beat played, so strong that your heart couldn’t help but pound in sync. That’s when Taylor appeared, a dark silhouette against a red curtain, her voice so clear and pure it invaded your senses and whisked you away to one of the many romances that left a mark on her heart.

Things only went up from there!  In a set complete with aerialist drummers, sparkling costumes, crowd surfing, flying platforms, fireworks, and confetti, Taylor took us to a world all her own giving us a personal tour of the ups and downs she has experienced since the release of her previous album. Through it all, one thing was clear: Taylor poured her heart and soul into this concert bringing with the amazing set her emotions laid bare to the world. Many times as I looked around the arena I was struck by how many tears of joy and hurt I saw, all brought on by Miss Swift’s ability to tell a tale and make it personal for whoever was listening.

I’ve seen Taylor twice before and every concert has been absolutely amazing! But this RED Tour is on a whole other level. I’ll never forget what I saw or the looks on my nieces’ faces as they enjoyed their first arena concert experience. And one thing is certain, August 6, 2013 will always be a day painted RED in my memory.

Guest Review #2: Taylor Swift’s Red Tour

Submitted by: Sarah Blosser

Seven time Grammy winner, Taylor Swift brought her highly anticipated “Red” tour to INTRUST Bank Arena on Tuesday August 6, 2013. Taylor, has been to Wichita once before in 2011 with the “Fearless” tour.  This was unlike most concerts with many activities going on out side the arena before the doors even opened. Fans could take pictures with large images of Taylor as well as sing karaoke for prizes. Once the doors were opened, fans of all ages hurried through the doors and up the stairs to purchase merchandise. There was also a set up of Taylor’s costumes from past concerts and music videos, as well as free popcorn being handed out by the kind staff of INTRUST Bank Arena.

Opening for Miss Swift was American idol contestant Casey James, and brought the crowd to their feet with his hit “Crying on a suitcase”.

Ed Sheeran was up next and performed without a band. He used technology to record beats that he would loop back and play throughout the song. He amazed the crowd with his t

alent and was amazed himself with fans singing to his songs, especially “Lego House” and, “The A Team”.

Once Ed was done the tension in the arena got a lot higher with fans knowing Taylor was up next. There were little girls dancing in the aisles, fans holding up signs, and everyone going crazy. The lights went down, the curtain dropped and all 11,000 screaming fans jumped to their feet. Taylor had four back-up singers, 14 dancers, and a killer band that took over the stage.

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Taylor rocking her “Red” mic

With numerous stage segments spread around the arena, including one in the very back that raised up, and one that was part of the enormous section of the main stage that lifted into the air. There was even a floating stage that carried Taylor thought the air by crane from front to back of the arena.

With Video screens on both sides of the stage, as well as above and behind fans could see no matter where their seats were. “The Lucky One” was staged, as an older time with lots of paparazzi, while “I Knew You Were Trouble,” was more of a Goth Masquerade ball. A crowd favorite was “22” where Taylor made a cross arena trek to a smaller stage where she sang hits “Tim McGraw” and  “Everything Has Changed” With opening act Ed Sheeran. “Love story” started with all the dancers leaping out of a life-size music box. The last song, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Taylor dressed as a circus ringleader surrounded on stage by clowns and stilt- walkers. The crowd was singing along as loud as they could as confetti poured from the ceiling and sparks flew from the stage.

Not only does Taylor write her own songs, she can also play a variety of stringed instruments and dance, which took her concerts to the next level and considered as more of an event. Once the show was over there was not a single person that was not smiling. The “Red” tour was definitely one of the most anticipated shows the arena has hosted and everyone had a great time.

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