Artists’ set lists for the second night of Country Night Lights were composed not only of country, but contained pop, rock and R&B elements that inspired fans of every musical persuasion to make plans to come back next year.
“I had a blast both nights, it was a great time” Kelsey Kinner, a junior studying sport management, said. “I definitely want to come back next year, I’m looking forward to it.”
The night’s first headlining act was country artist Chris Lane, who performed several medleys featuring covers of chart toppers such as “I Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd, “SexyBack” by Justin Timberlake and “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys.
Lane observed and appreciated the crowd’s tangible energy from the get-go. “Y’all showed up ready to go,” Lane said looking out into a sea of cheering festgoers.
Later in the set, fans screamed in nostalgia as Lane and his band performed the song and accompanying choreography to “Bye Bye” as performed by the boy band NSYNC.
Following Lane’s set, Frankie Ballard and his band established a comparably darker tone, donning all-black ensembles and improvising complex rock guitar riffs to transition from song to song.
Ballard informed the audience of his plans to incorporate multiple genres into his set, opening with his fourth most-streamed song on Spotify, “Young & Crazy,” and said he was going to play “some funk blues, some rock n’ roll, and definitely some country for (the crowd).”
Ballard kept his word and covered tracks such as “Hound Dog” and “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley. He also performed a rock-infused cover of the blues standard “Shake Your Hips” by Slim Harpo.
“I’m not into rock that much,” Erin Woodward, a senior studying specialized studies, said. “But it was definitely good because people who like both can enjoy all of it.”
Ballard’s set also featured original tracks including “It All Started With a Beer” and, prompted by fans chanting the song title, closed his act with his No. 1 most-played song on Spotify, “Sunshine & Whiskey.”
Brett Eldredge, the final act of Country Night Lights, was a hit with the crowd from the very beginning as fans sang along to almost every song beginning with his first selection, “Lose My Mind.”
“I cannot wait, Brett Eldredge is amazing,” Joey Inks, an Ohio University alumnus who graduated in 2012, said before the show. “It’s gonna be phenomenal, there’s gonna be a bigger crowd, a bigger show, it’s gonna be awesome.”
The artist then spoke of his midwestern roots.
“I grew up in the midwest and this is my favorite place on Earth, this is what I love. I wanna be that song you party to on a Saturday night here in Athens,” Eldredge told the crowd before he launched into “Wanna Be That Song.”
Eldredge played other originals including “Drunk On Your Love,” “Mean to Me,” “Tell Me Where to Park” and “Beat of the Music.”
“I’ve loved him for years so I was really excited for the show,” Kelsey Kinner, a junior studying sport management, said. “He was just adorable and personable and he just put on a really good show.”
Eldredge decided to change the tone of his set later on, as he covered “(his) favorite summer song” which was “Summertime” by fellow country artist Kenny Chesney. Eldredge surprised the crowd by playing the intro to “Gold Digger” by Kanye West and then kept fans entertained as he mixed the hit song by Daft Punk, "Get Lucky,” with his own track, “You Can’t Stop Me.”
Eldredge closed his set with “Shadow,” but that wasn’t the last time fans would get to see him. After less than a minute of silence, Eldredge returned to the stage for an encore of one last song for the Country Night Lights crowd, “Don’t Ya,” before the stage lights dimmed.
“I thought it was awesome, one of the best concerts of my life,” Sean Cook, a junior at Hocking College, said. “It was everything I wanted in a country concert.”