Luke Bryan likes to party.
That’s the feeling one gets anyway, listening the Georgia-born country singer, or being in the audience at one of his shows.
“The guy is fun! His shows reflect his attitude,” says Rik McNeil, program director with the country station 106.7 KJUG. Bryan’s “Kill the Lights” tour stops Saturday, April 30, at the Save Mart Center, with Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch.
“He’s personable, approachable and very down-to-earth. He’s decent and sincere. He’s also been through some tough times in life, and remains a friendly, grateful and open person. Fans appreciate and admire that,” McNeil says.
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Country music about fun and having a good time is definitely still on an upswing, and he helped bring that in.
KJUG program director Rik McNeil, on country singer Luke Bryan.
Indeed, Bryan’s career trajectory has been marked by personal triumphs – signing to Capital Nashville in 2007, having multiple No. 1 singles – and tragedies, including the deaths of two siblings. In an interview with the news show “20/20,” Bryan said his brother was killed in a car accident just days before the singer was scheduled to move to Nashville. His older sister also died unexpectedly, just days before the singer was to make his debut at the Grand Ole Opry.
“You can lean on friends and family through it … and you can get back life,” Bryan, 39, said in the interview.
A headlining act
The “Kill the Lights” tour will be the first time local fans get to see Bryan as a headlining performer. He last played Fresno in 2011 as the opening act for Tim McGraw. The reviews made clear the singer had star power.
One read: “Luke Bryan is a sex god! He can work the crowd.”
Luke Bryan grossed $71.8 million on tour last year, according to Pollstar.
In five years, Bryan has earned his spot as a headliner. He has no shortage of awards – Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association’s entertainer of the year, to name two. And album sales? “Kill The Lights” was the third-largest-selling album debut in all genres when it was released last May, just behind Drake and Kendrick Lamar. The album debuted No. 1 on both the Billboard Top 200 and Top Country Albums charts.
He also sells tickets. Last year, he was 17th on Pollstar’s list of the top 100 worldwide tours. He ranked just above Billy Joel and Shania Twain, averaging 22,705 tickets a night.
“He brought in 47,000 people at Levi Stadium last year. This tour has shows at Wrigley Field and Gillette Stadium, and they’ll be packed,” McNeil says.
Following his Fresno performance, Bryan will headline the final night to the Stagecoach Festival, the three-day outdoor concert that takes place this weekend. It is the Coachella of country music. The singer just announced plans for his third annual Crash My Playa, a four-day music festival/vacation party in Riviera Maya, Mexico.
More than country, bro
Bryan often gets lumped in with a group of young country artists who are inspired by R&B, pop, rock and even hip-hop. Collectively, their music has been dubbed “Bro-Country” and is defined by its focus on attractive young women, alcohol, partying and pickup trucks. Hear Bryan’s songs “We Rode in Trucks,” “Drink a Beer,” or his series of Spring Break EPs. The last installment – “Spring Break … Checkin’ Out” – was released last year.
“Luke wore the label for a while as a poster child for Bro-Country, but he’s worked hard to show that he’s a lot more than that,” McNeil says.
In fact, he recently helped honor Lionel Richie as the 2016 MusiCares Person of the Year at a gala in Los Angeles and has been teaming up with Little Big Town to sing a soulful mash-up of Ed Sheeran’s hit “Thinking Out Loud” and the Marvin Gaye classic “Let’s Get It On.”
- 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30
- Save Mart Center
- Tickets: $39.75-$74.75
- 800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com