by Jeff Niesel
It was appropriate that the areas closest to the stage at last night’s Brothers of the Sun show at Browns Stadium were called the “sand bars.” While they weren’t literally coated with sand, they might as well have been. The concert featuring co-headlining country singers Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney was as much beach party as it was musical concert. Fittingly, Corona was the beverage of choice, and frozen margaritas were a popular option, too. Too bad the security personnel didn’t get the memo — for some reason, they confiscated beach balls throughout the evening. Still, that hardly put a damper on the festive vibe.
Chesney made a dramatic entrance as he emerged mid-field to the sound of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” and rose up above the sound booth on a mechanical lift. He then hopped into a chair that whisked him above the crowd and onto the main stage. While songs like “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” and “Out Last Night” got the biggest rise out of the audience, Chesney was at his best when he showed he actually has a heart. He dedicated “I Go Back To” to Chuck Collier, the local country music DJ who passed away last year. And he sounded sincere on “Anything But Mine,” a song with a Cleveland reference that he said he was happy to sing “in this town.” He closed his set with the cheesy “Boys of Fall,” a tune about football that went over well with the many Browns’ fans in the audience, and he said, “It’s honor to play this song in a city where football means so much.” Yeah, right. We bet he said the same thing in Pittsburgh.
For the four-song encore, McGraw joined Chesney and the two sang “Feel Like a Rockstar,” “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” and “Indian Outlaw.” They closed the show with a terrific rendition of Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” that showed their ability to harmonize. Much like Chesney, co-headliner McGraw emphasized the party hearty side of his repertoire in a 90-minute set by playing tunes like “Mexicoma” and “Live Like You Were Dying.” Looking particularly tan and buff, he had a strong connection with the crowd and his seven-piece band veered easily from more traditional-sounding country to rock-oriented numbers like the set closing “Truck Yeah.”
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals started things off with a bang. Singer Potter admitted that she knew the pop rock band didn’t entirely fit the bill. But once she literally kicked off her shoes to play the ZZ Top track “Tush,” the band turned up the volume and won over the audience with its enthusiasm and turned “Medicine” into a fervent a sing-a-long.