October 09, 2012
Luke Bryan kicked off his annual Farm Tour in Claxton last Wednesday in the fourth year of his charitable concert series, which consists of eight shows across several southern states.
The night proved to be a formidable one, but even rain couldn’t delay or prevent the show. Swarms of people — around 11,000, give or take — flooded Longneedle Farm all day, and traffic crawled for two miles leading into the venue. Some people resorted to parking their cars along the shoulder and walking toward the entrance. Between the haphazardly parked lifted trucks and hordes of people (some of which obviously had tailgated throughout the day) walking along the roads, driving and simple navigation proved difficult.
About a quarter mile out from the stage, the sound of a booming sound system echoed through, just as a light drizzle began to fall. It was right before Luke Bryan was set to take the stage, and fans were still filtering in at a steady pace. People of all ages were in the audience; families herding young children, groups of university and high school students, couples — all were sharing the excitement of seeing one of their favorite artists on a relaxed Wednesday evening.
Once past the ticket gates, food and beverage vendors lined the perimeter. Those with a more adult palate could purchase beer after receiving both a hand stamp and wristband.
Police slowly strolled through the crowd, maintaining the peace while also enjoying the show. They concerned themselves mostly with the prevention of underage drinking and kept a sharpe eye out for anyone that seemed even remotely too intoxicated.
Closer to the stage, which included a catwalk that extended into the crowd and was flanked by two towering banners that proclaimed LUKE BRYAN FARM TOUR 2012, a sea of people crowded together to get a glimpse of the multi-platinum headliner. To the right of the performance area, an enormous screen displayed the show so that everyone in attendance could see it clearly.
After the opening acts, the lights dimmed and a mix of music played over the sound system while the band set up and sound-checked their equipment. Flo-Rida’s “Good Feeling” featuring Aviccii began playing, and the excitement level in the crowd skyrocketed.
The music faded, and as the crowd began to settle slightly, the lights began to flicker and projected along the rear wall of the stage the image of a severe thunderstorm. The sound of rain followed over the sound system, and without warning, lights flooded the stage as Bryan opened the show with his 2010 platinum single, “Rain is a Good Thing,” all while the entire crowd sang along flawlessly.
Bryan transitioned seamlessly into “Country Man” and followed with a free-styled version of “We Rode in Trucks.”
In addition to playing a variety of his own songs, he incorporated a number of well-known covers, from Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “I Like Big Butts” to Steve Miller’s “The Joker” to Journey’s “I’m Forever Yours, Faithfully.”
He ended the three-hour concert with his double-platinum single, “Country Girl.” Prior to playing the song, he asked a male member of the crowd to come up on stage and show everyone how to “shake it.” As the band began to play, both Bryan and the lucky fan danced on stage, causing the excitement level in the crowd to reach a whole new level.
Because this song marked the conclusion of the event, many people began slowly collecting their folding chairs, blankets and children to make the trek back to their vehicles. Thankfully, the traffic leaving was relatively smooth compared to the drive in.
As people walked out, they continued to talk about the show, which songs they liked most, how it compared to last year, and how excited they are for next year’s Farm Tour.