After five consecutive songs, Sara Evans finally paused for a moment to say she was honored to perform in Athens.
Then a man in the crowd took a moment to compliment her black pants, “I love your pants.”
“Thank you. My pants love you,” Evans responded. “They’re basically just my pajamas that I slept in. I just put these boots on.”
Evans performed at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium on Friday night as part of the CMT Next Women of Country Tour. Kalie Shorr and RaeLynn opened the show. About 1,300 people attended the performance, Andrew Holzaepfel, senior associate director of student activities, said.
“Women in country music are not getting as much love as they used to,” Shorr said.
She said female artists like Shania Twain, Reba McEntire and Evans were popular on the charts in the ’90s, but now women aren’t getting as much attention.
Evans used her time on stage to sing some of her greatest hits and highlight what women in country music are truly capable of. She also addressed how influential music can be and how it has created a strong bond within her family.
Before she performed “Night Light,” a song about the people who are supportive during dark times, Evans introduced three bandmates: her older brother Matt who plays the bass, her younger sister Lesley on vocals and her son Avery who plays the acoustic guitar.
“I love the fact that she brought her family,” Renee Smith, an Athens resident, said. “It’s neat to see that in this day in age.”
Evans engaged with the crowded throughout the evening, which earned her some laughs and cheers. At one moment, the crowd hollered and chuckled as Evans explained that it would be practical if everyone had a warning sign, especially love interests.
“People can really fool you,” Evans said. “So if they just have a sign that says ‘I’m a liar.’ ‘I will cheat on you.’ ‘I will never work.’ Then you could just turn and run and make a better decision. Find somebody better.”
The crowd continued to laugh and cheer as Evans began singing “Marquee Sign,” the lead single off her latest album, Words.
Evans performed hits — ”A Little Bit Stronger,” “Slow Me Down,” “Suds in the Bucket” and “Born to Fly” — which kept audience members on their feet for the rest of the show.
Evans then sang “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper and brought RaeLynn and Shorr back to the stage.
“I love RaeLynn,” Susan Funderburg, a 1979 OU graduate who studied graphic design, said. “She’s a little feisty.”
Susan and her daughter, Hannah, drove from Dayton to see the show and have seen RaeLynn three times in concert: in Columbus, in Dayton and now in Athens.
Hannah, who graduated from Ohio University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in specialized studies, said “Love Triangle” is her favorite song of RaeLynn’s.
“When I first heard that song, I was actually running through Athens listening to it on the Opry, so I feel like I have more of a connection with that one,” Hannah said.
Evans wrapped up the show with a performance of “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon. She waved to the crowd and blew kisses as she exited the stage.
“I thought it was great,” Hannah said. “I just think it’s so awesome just to see the girl power, especially in country music being a country music fan.”