Friday night, some students avoided the brick roads and Uptown bars in favor of cowboy boots, cowboy hats and live country music.
Country Night Lights’ headliners, Brothers Osborne followed by Jake Owen, were fondly received by an enthusiastic audience as they performed back to back on the festival’s first night at The Venue of Athens, 8006 Ohio 56.
“(Jake Owen) just gives you a good vibe,” Luke Hendrickson, a sophomore studying biology, said.
The day began with artists such as Julia Neville, Matthew Pinkham and Clare Dunn, but the festival grounds did not fill up until right before Brothers Osborne began playing their first song.
Using a megaphone, TJ Osborne, the main vocalist of Brothers Osborne, sang the first verse of the band’s hit track “Greener Pastures.” At the end of the song, a crowd-pleasing guitar solo provided a seamless transition into “Sipping on a Good Time.”
Crowd favorites from the band’s set became apparent as fans sang along throughout songs such as "21 Summer," which received over 16 million plays on Spotify.
However, Brothers Osborne’s set was not entirely comprised of the band’s original songs. The band covered other popular country hits including “Goodbye Earl” by the Dixie Chicks and “Whiskey River” by Willie Nelson.
The band ended, after over an hour, with their hit song “Stay a Little Longer” followed by “It Ain’t My Fault.”
Although Brothers Osborne are a relatively new act in the country music scene, many audience members recognized radio chart toppers from the band’s set.
“I actually recognized a lot of their music,” Sydney Jones, a sophomore studying psychology, said. “Now I’m going to look them up.”
Before Owen sang the opening notes of his first song, it was clear that his set would greatly differ from Brothers Osborne’s.
It appeared as if the Florida State University graduate wanted to transport the crowd to the tropical paradise associated with his home state. Bright video montages and colorful lights strung about inflatable palm trees flashed in front of sweaty festgoers as they sang along to “American Love.”
“American Country Love Song” was an apparent crowd pleaser as the audience recited the song’s chorus verbatim when Owen stopped singing.
The singer continued to appeal to his audience of country music lovers as the night went on, covering tracks such as “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash and “Chattahoochee” by Alan Jackson.
“I loved it, I mean I loved how he played some of his old songs as well as his new songs,” Alyssa Bandsuh, a senior studying health administration said. “I loved how happy he was and how excited he seemed to be here.”
However, the set included songs outside of the country genre. Owen performed crossover covers including “Steal My Kisses” by Ben Harper and “Bow Chicka Wow Wow” by Mike Posner.
After accidentally stepping on a nail on-stage with his barefoot, Owen decided to launch into an impromptu performance of “That Smell” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“I like to pull stuff out of nowhere,” he told the crowd. “A second ago I just stepped on a nail and it took me to another place ... and when I start drinking and hurt my foot, I wanna play something I really wanna play.”
The show seemed over when Owen left the stage after performing “Eight Second Ride,” but fans who stayed behind were in for a surprise.
Owen returned to the stage to perform two tracks for the encore. Owen and the crowd sang along together one last time to “Beachin’” and “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” before the lights on-stage dimmed and the crowd shuffled out.
“It was the first time I’ve been to any country concert, it was a lot better than I expected,” Jones said. “It was just amazing, (I’m) coming back tomorrow night and I’m so excited.”