Thomas Rhett’s Bring the Nap to Me Tour

Thomas Rhett performed as part of his Bring the Bar to You tour, but his openers were more entertaining than he was.


Sarah Kueking, Managing Editor

When my friend said she wanted to see Thomas Rhett’s concert Oct. 13 for his Bring the Bar to You tour, I automatically raised an eyebrow. I had never heard of Rhett. However, she really wanted to go, and it was the last weekend of his tour, so I agreed to tag along to make her happy.

The verdict? She loved every second of his performance. I slept through the last 30 minutes of his set.

The venue, Vibrant Arena in Moline, Ill. was the first indoor stadium I had been to so far this year. Whoever was in charge was very strategic in making the space cold enough to manipulate the audience into wanting to buy a sweatshirt; not that I would ever in my right mind fork out $145 for a zip-up hoodie after my friend had spent over $50 for each of our three tickets.

Before I was lulled to sleep by Rhett’s songs that I didn’t know, Conner Smith and Parker McCollum opened. I’ve gone to many concerts in the last two months, but I’ve never seen two openers any more loving towards their fans. Besides touching various girls’ hands, both Smith and McCollum grabbed fans’ phones and crouched to take selfies with the audience in the middle of singing without any interruption even audible in the overall song. My friends and I sat in the upper rows as close as possible to the stage, but for once I wished I was up close and personal, enthusiastically letting the openers photobomb me.

Smith, a 22-year-old country singer and songwriter from Nashville, was first on stage. He was good for warming the audience up, but he was the one of the three who neither my friend nor I knew much about. Regardless, he was enjoyable to listen to. Smith performed his breakout hit, “I Hate Alabama,” as well as “Orange and White” and my personal favorite, “Somewhere in a Small Town,” which I still listen to on repeat.

McCollum, a 30-year-old country artist hailing from Texas, graced the stage next, and he absolutely conquered my attention. I loved every single song he performed. Before the concert, my friend and I had listened to maybe two of his songs, so we somewhat knew what to expect. However, his slow, sway-worthy truthfulness in “Like a Cowboy,” hypnotic declaration in “Hell of a Year,” and melancholic drawn-out notes in “I Can’t Breathe” when performed live far surpassed my expectations. As he walked offstage, I found myself thinking no one could top McCollum’s perfection.

Photo provided by Big Machine Records

Unfortunately, it turns out that Rhett is included under the general umbrella as “no one,” which I soon discovered once the spotlights flipped back on and Rhett played through a few songs. My friend and I had listened to more of his ballads before the event than we had McCollum’s, yet it made little difference to me in terms of entertainment. From what I saw, Rhett moved around the stage and interacted with the people closest to the stage (in terms of hand-touching and selfies) far less than Smith and McCollum had. I understand Rhett is married, but there is a certain amount of charisma that comes with being a male country singer that he lacked. His songs sounded good and probably would have sounded even better if I had known them. Unfortunately, I didn’t. So, I spent the first part of his set on my phone, half-listening to the songs while wishing Smith and McCollum would take over.

To my delight, slightly over halfway through his performance, Rhett invited Smith and McCollum back out to perform a few songs as a group. To my despair, the victory lasted less than 10 minutes before Rhett went solo again.

Photo provided by Big Machine Records

After that, my memory is a bit fuzzy. I attempted to stay standing, dance aimlessly, and drink my Pepsi, but my efforts to fight my drooping eyelids proved futile. Finally, I sat down, deciding that I could lean back and close my eyes so I could relax while still listening to the mysterious melodies. The last time I remember looking at my watch, it was not even 10:15. Before I knew it, I woke up to my friend saying we should leave around 10:45.

Rhett may be a popular country singer who sells out arenas, but I would only want to see him again if I got to know his songs better and liked them first. On the other hand, I would love to see Smith and McCollum again regardless of how familiar I am with their music. At least I can count on Smith and McCollum to not overcharge me for a nap.