Brett Eldredge hasn’t been in Milwaukee for quite some time, but he stormed the Riverside on Saturday night with as much energy as Brett can have – and if you know Brett, that’s a LOT of jumping around! His openers were no different.
Newcomer, Abby Anderson, is a spitfire of a human being with solid music. The 21 year-old released an EP just a short while ago with a variety of songs from ballads to upbeat tempos that anyone can release and dance to.
The good part about attending a show at The Riverside is the opportunity for the opener to perform to a decent crowd because people were already in the building trying to get as close as possible in the GA Pit. Personally, I showed up extra early because I didn’t want to miss Abby, and I’m sure that the rest of the crowd feels the same way after seeing her performance.
As I mentioned, Abby is only 21 years old. It’s impressive how sure of herself she is in front of a crowd. Her confidence and good mood vibes captured the audience along with her band. You could tell this group was having a great time – whether it was Abby, herself, dancing with no shame – similar to what I would do in my bedroom with a hairbrush when I’d pretend to be a rockstar (that’s not a punch, that’s a compliment) – to her the members of her band running out on the catwalk, singing her songs with every inch of enthusiasm as she had. If you missed her, I’d encourage you see her the next time she’s anywhere close to Milwaukee. In the meantime, you might want to check out her EP which includes her current radio single, “Make Him Wait,” and a solid dance jam co-written by Kelsea Ballerini, known as “Dance Away My Broken Heart.”
The crowd was definitely warmed up for the next opener who has had my attention since day one of his viral fame: Devin Dawson. The dark, mysterious and edgy songwriter is probably what I’d consider the exact opposite from Abby Anderson in the sense that he wears all black, “sides with the outsiders,” and rocks the double sleeves of tattoos. The thing is, if you look at his style and don’t think you’d identify with his lyrics, think again. Devin is an incredible songwriter that moved from tour in a heavy metal band with his brother into the creative world of Nashville, which is exactly where he belongs.
Devin’s storytelling capabilities are spot on and always surprise me based on his age and the background of music that he came from; although, he did mention at the show that he grew up listening to country music based on his mom’s preferences. Here’s what I’m talking about though: Devin kicked off his part of the show with a song called, “War Paint.” It describes a girl getting revenge on a guy who has done her wrong by putting on her makeup, or “War Paint.”
Girls – how often when you get your heartbroken, you tell you’re girls that you’re going out and look as fierce as ever in hopes that you’ll run into the guy who tore you to pieces to show him what he’s missing / who he messed with? Or post the hottest picture you can on Instagram? Exactly.
The best part about Devin is that he takes the best of both worlds from his music history – the songwriting mentioned above, but as I mentioned before, he used to tour with his brother in a metal band. Usually, I feel like most people wouldn’t think that fits with country music, but you can tell he learned a thing or two about performing while out on the road. His band is another exceptional example that shows these kids are out there having fun, but they’re taking their jobs seriously. They want to entertain.
And that they did. In fact, the crowd performed along with them. The screams and singing that came with Devin’s first single, “All On Me,” provided one of those moments of community. Do you know what I mean? I LOVE it when this happens. When you suddenly get along with the people who were talking throughout the entire show. When you connect with someone twice your age. When you actually sing to the person next to you because everyone is just having a good time. There’s nothing like a good song to join people together – at least for three minutes.
Devin always closes out his set with, “Dark Horse.” If you’ve never seen him in concert either, this is the best way you can get a feel for his personality. I love the fact that he ends his “shift” with something other than his biggest song, too. He sticks to who he is, and that’s all you can ask for in an artist.
Onto the meat of the show – and although, I’m sure a lot of females in attendance would say something along the lines of, “Man, he’s a fine piece of meat,” that’s not what I mean. Brett Eldredge hit the stage with one of the coolest sets I’ve seen at the Riverside. The ambiance of the stage replicated “Old New York” to a T. Video screens were set up with the city scape and an old bar effect. You kind of felt like you were with Sinatra back in the day, which I’m SURE was Brett’s intention. In fact, Sinatra even played as his band walked out. Then, Brett showed up in a London telephone booth and broke out into “The Reason.”
I thought the roof was going to come off of The Riverside. I mentioned before how many women were in attendance, and yes, there was a solid amount of men, but the pipes on the females shook the venue as Brett stepped out on stage. You could tell the concert was full of true fans because as Brett began to dive in to song after song, it seemed like everyone knew every word – even to the songs that have never been on the radio. That makes for a good concert.
Remember how I’ve been talking about energy this entire time? I’m pretty sure Brett’s is equivalent to my eight year old self after “earning” eighteen pounds of trick or treat candy. I give all of these musicians credit because you never take into account how in shape they have to be when they’re on stage! Brett was running around, trying to please every section of the audience, jumping, grabbing hands, dancing, but he never lost his pitch. If you’ve ever heard, “Somethin’ I’m Good At,” you can imagine how hard that is to do with how many words he shoved into that song!
Several unforgettable moments happened throughout Brett’s concert, and I wanted to highlight two of them. The first one is something that every fan hopes happens at…pretty much every concert because almost every musician has a dog. Brett’s set changed into his bedroom, inspired by his social media bit, “Bedhead Jams,” where Brett plays cover songs on Instagram, Snapchat and wherever else, while sitting on his bed. Brett left the stage as his bed was set up and went to get a special guest: Edgar – his two-year old pup.
If you follow Brett on social media, you know that he and his dog are inseparable. Although Edgar didn’t stick around for a song, he impressed the crowd by flipping a treat that sat on his nose into his mouth – not once, but TWICE. He couldn’t seem to wait for Brett’s cue to flip the second time, however. As he was called backstage, Edgar ran out to the catwalk and posed for a picture by sitting down at the end. He is a ham!! Edgar eventually was walked off stage, and Brett broke into the song that every girl wishes her significant other would sing to her, “Mean to Me.”
“The Long Way Tour” is based on Brett’s song, “The Long Way” which has a special meaning for a lot of people. Especially newly engaged, Dominica and Josh. Brett must have seen Josh propose to Domenica in the pit on the side of the stage and invited the couple up to share their first dance. I'm thinking they might already know the song for their wedding...
All in all, Brett’s pretty much unstoppable when it comes to entertaining a crowd. He’s goofy, personable and like I said, he’s just a big kid! It’s fun to see an artist get on-stage and gaze out into the crowd to see how many people came to see them. Not only that, but it’s fun to see them engaging with their band and love what they’re doing because let’s face it – they’re lucky! They’re talented but lucky they get to do what they do for a living, and I think every single person on this tour knew that. In fact, I think all three of them said that at some time during the show. Here’s to another successful night at The Riverside!