It was only a year ago that Luke Bryan was opening for country star Jason Aldean at amphitheaters around the country. But Bryan, who upstaged Aldean, is the one selling out sheds this summer.
Bryan, 36, impressed 18,000 fans, courtesy of his considerable charisma and endless energy. The handsome Georgia native scored shrieks from the plethora of 20-something females, but its not as if hes a shallow pin-up lacking substance.
Theres nothing wrong with that (appealing to women), Bryan said by phone this week from a tour stop in Camden, New Jersey.
Its a good thing. Thats part of the package. The response I get (from women) is nice but I also want to make the best music I can and put on the best shows.
Its not just lip service from Bryan, who is an accomplished singer-songwriter. While trying to make his way in the business, Bryan co-wrote songs for Travis Tritt and Billy Currington.
Bryan is also a polite, thoughtful entertainer. Hes a product of small-town life. While coming of age not far from the Alabama border, Bryan worked for his father, who owns a fertilizer company.
I learned about working hard and about persevering, Bryan said. Thats very valuable to me.
His tenacity has paid off. Bryan has four Top Five Country singles. The capacity crowd in Camden happily sang along with Country Girl (Shake It For Me), I Dont Want This Night To End, Drunk On You and Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.
Bryans latest single Crash My Party, the title track on his forthcoming album (dropping in August), was received with unbridled enthusiasm. Countrys latest star can do little wrong. The audience went wild when Bryan danced, toasted his musicians and swilled booze.
When I get out there Im having fun and the audience is having fun, Bryan said. Thats what matters most.
Singer-songwriter Tyler Hubbard from Bryans opening act Florida Georgia Line is impressed. I cant say enough about Luke, Hubbard said. Hes a great performer. You have to catch the show.
Florida Georgia Line, an act reminiscent of Brooks & Dunn, are adept at delivering gritty, celebratory country-pop. Were just trying to add to what Luke offers, Hubbard said.
Bryan delivers a well-balanced show, which features well-constructed hits and an engaging performance, thanks to his solid pipes and a commanding stage presence.
I just want to build on what Im doing right now, Bryan says. I want to take it to another level.
Note: Tickets for Saturday night's show at Time Warner Cable Pavilion at Walnut Creek are sold out.