Chris Young, a hot emerging country artist, performed at North Star Mohican Casino in Bowler, Wisconsin on Friday, Feb. 13. The crowd was riled up even before Young took the stage, chanting his lyrics as if to draw him out sooner.
Young had just left Nashville, Tennessee after performing for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition Bash before playing at the casino. Though Bowler is approximately an hour drive from Stevens Point, students from the university were still excited he was in such close proximity. They anticipate his return to Wisconsin later this month.
“The first song I ever heard from Chris Young was ‘Getting You Home’ and I was entertained by the catchy lyrics,” said Jamie Lee Boysen, an arts management major. “I came to love his music very quickly.”
Young’s song “Lonely Eyes” is currently No. 14 on Billboard’s Top 100 Country Song Chart.
Zach Piper, an urban forestry major, said Young is more likely to appeal to a collegiate demographic because of his own youthfulness. Young is 29 years old.
“I think some college students might not know who he is if they don’t listen to country music because he’s not that big of a star yet,” Piper said. “He’s relatively new to country.”
Boysen agreed that Young’s music is relatable.
“Anywhere you go, Chris Young’s music is going to relate to people, and if the music relates to the public it’s going to gain popularity quickly,” Boysen said. “It’s hard for one singer to represent Wisconsin, but I can say that from how often his songs are played across multiple radio stations, he is a well known musician throughout the state.”
For some, Young’s lyrics invoked feelings of sentimentality, while others seemed to take simple pleasure in raising a glass to live music. Young meshed with the crowd’s wavelength, making the event feel more like a good Wisconsin cookout, centralized in the sophistication of a great Northwoods casino.
Young gave fans a special opportunity to hear what he had performed at this year’s Grammy awards. He said he was asked to sing outside of his genre for the event. “Lonely Eyes” and “Aw Naw” seemed to be crowd favorites.
“My roommates caught me belting out ‘Who I am With You’ when I was showering a few weeks ago,” Boysen said. “I thought I was home alone, so it was embarrassing, but totally worth it.”
At the concert, Young paid tribute to veterans and those currently serving. He expressed his gratitude to the crowd many times about being able to perform at all.
“Thank you for letting me do this for a living,” Young said.
Young’s Tennessee roots inspire his music. Still, he was relatable to the Wisconsin audience.
Several concert-goers recaptured memories and created new ones. One fan celebrated her 21st birthday with friends, while another, who was there with her best friend and husband, remembered one of Young’s songs as her wedding song.
Young will be touring the Midwest through March, then will head to Hawaii and Australia this April. His international tour will extend all the way to Sweden this September.
“I generally don’t like going to concerts, but I liked seeing and listening to Chris Young perform at Country USA back in 2014,” Piper said. “He had a broken arm at the time, so he wasn’t that entertaining to watch on stage but still had a good voice.”
Piper recommended Young for his stand-out vocals.
“I really like his voice and the beat of his music,” Piper said. “He sticks out.”
The crowd begged Young for an encore when he left the stage around 9:30 p.m. Young satisfied the crowd’s call, and ended his show with two songs, “The Dashboard” and The Doobie Brothers’ “China Grove.”
Young raised a red cup as he encouraged fans to explore the casino, then left the stage to return to his tour bus. On Feb. 19, Young will perform with Lee Brice at the Independence Events Center in Independence, Missouri, and will return to Wisconsin at the La Crosse Center on Feb. 21.
Arts & Entertainment Editor