Florida Georgia Line is on fire and the sold-out, multi-generational audience at Bridgestone Arena Thursday night fanned the flame.
Duo members Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley were lowered onto the stage from the ceiling at the top of the show on separate platforms to kick off the night with “This Is How We Roll.” Towers of flames erupted from the stage during the song then rotated to different angles as an image of a burning semitrailer was shown on their massive screens.
Fans 13 rows behind the pit at the front of the stage felt the heat — but the duo’s energy and charisma stretched to the venue’s furthest points. Add in 90 minutes of hit songs, sing-along favorites and three unpredictable, surprise guests and ticket holders never sat down during the local stop of Florida Georgia Line’s Dig Your Roots Tour.
“We’re so thankful to be here,” Hubbard told fans. “We’ve been out digging our roots all year and where better to dig our roots than in our hometown of Nashville?”
The day before the show, Hubbard admitted he was feeling a bit worn down from the grind of touring and feeling added pressure to deliver a memorable show in Nashville. Unlike a typical tour stop, the duo had friends and family in town and added activities leading up to the concert. During a pre-show party, the men were presented with double platinum sales plaques for their 18-week No. 1 song “H.O.L.Y.”
Kelley called it “crazy” and “humbling” to have sold out Bridgestone Arena.
“This is the tour, this is the night, that we wanted everybody to see,” he said. “It takes a huge crew to make this … run.”
Florida Georgia Line carted its Dig Your Roots set into Nashville on 11 semitrailers and more than 100 crew members spent six hours building it. About 88,000 lbs. of equipment was suspended from the ceiling by chain motors and winches. The tour is the biggest production the men have mounted, a choice they deliberately made in the hopes of taking their touring to “the next level,” Hubbard said.
“We were like, ‘Let’s spend the money and do a big production, but let’s also make it clean and make it us,” Hubbard said. “Let’s try to be smart about it.”
For the Dig Your Roots Tour, the duo signed on support acts The Cadillac Three and Cole Swindell, who has the charisma, hit songs and fan engagement to be country music’s next arena headliner.
Florida Georgia Line added a satellite stage, set up like a campsite complete with a campfire, where they perform “Dirt” and “H.O.L.Y.” The night was also stacked with hits on the main stage. The men danced their way through “Anything Goes” and fans matched their volume singing “Round Here.” “Shine On” and current hit “May We All” that features Tim McGraw were other favorites. A row of towering, inflatable trees at the back of the stage set the tone for “Dig Your Roots,” “Confession” and “Stay.”
Since the tour launched earlier this year, more than 1.2 million tickets have been sold. But no show was quite like Nashville. Florida Georgia Line surprised the hometown audience with an appearance from the Backstreet Boys. The ‘90s boy band is all grown up and performed its hit “Everybody” and then joined Florida Georgia Line for their collaboration on “God, Your Mama, and Me,” a song from the duo’s new album “Dig Your Roots.” Country singer Jake Owen popped out for a duet with Florida Georgia Line on “Sun Daze.” Then rapper Nelly surprised fans during the Mixtape Medley part of the show to sing “Ride Wit Me” and “Hot in Herre.” The latter of which prompted a thoroughly muscled Hubbard to remove his shirt.
Florida Georgia Line, joined by Nelly, closed the show with their breakthrough hit “Cruise.”