When: Fri., Sept. 25, 7 p.m. and Sat., Sept. 26, 7 p.m. 2015
FRIDAY, SEPT. 25–SATURDAY, SEPT. 26
WALNUT CREK AMPHITHEATRE, RALEIGH—I'm not opposed to so-called bro-country, at least all that much. The epithet, I think, is a condescending, class-shaming tag applied to what can be creative, fusion-fueled pop music—another way to make fun of country music and country people, really. Lots of indie rock is bro-ish, after all, as is hip-hop. I'm looking at you, Drake.
The subgenre is at its best when it's used as an unabashedly catchy venue for dudes expressing plain emotions in a painfully sincere way. And despite the bacchanalia, all the drinkin' and partyin' and kissin' and suggested screwin' is all pretty positive—women mostly get what they want out of the deal, too.
Consider, for instance, "Home Alone Tonight," the highlight from Luke Bryan's latest, Kill the Lights. It's a song about hooking up at a bar and then sending the ex some photos of the grand ol' time as both retribution and self-esteem boost. With a soaring, Warped Tour-size hook, it's a duet with the smoky-voiced Karen Fairchild that feels less like fantasy than a realistic victory song about an age-appropriate, warts-and-all hook-up. The rest of Kill the Lights is a slow-jam, pop-country record that finds the brawny bro-country dude opening up his frequently broken heart. He reconnects with old flames, hooks up at the bar and drives into a field to make out. It's the Harlequin romance novel version of country music, especially "Strip It Down," where he rekindles a fling to tap back into his country roots. Like many Luke Bryan songs, this is about sex. But it also concerns the confusing emotions that kick in soon thereafter, emotions that Bryan previously explored via endless songs about spring break. He's growing up. Good job, bro. With Dustin Lynch and Randy Houser. 7 p.m., $31–$71, 3801 Rock Quarry Road, Raleigh, 919-719-5500, www.walnutcreekamphitheatre.com. —Brandon Soderberg