What to Expect at Your First Country Concert: Frankie Ballard Brings Nashville to L.A.'s Sunset Strip
Plaid shirts, cowboy hats, cutoff denim shorts and leather boots -- some variation of this outfit probably comes to mind for most people new to the country concert scene when deciding what to wear to their first show. The crowd at Thursday night’s Frankie Ballard concert at L.A.'s Whiskey a Go Go on the Sunset Strip, however, proved to be a bit more diverse, including die-hard fans who knew every line to each song and a few newbies who broke out their boots for the first time.
As a closeted country fan, my experience listening to Ballard and other Nashville stars, including Luke Bryan, Kelsea Ballerini and Thomas Rhett, has been limited to solo car rides and a few Spotify playlists -- until Thursday night, that is.
Country songs were fused with rock 'n' roll guitar riffs under disco-ball lights at Ballard’s show, where he performed songs from his latest album, El Rio, as well as from his breakthrough LP, 2014's Sunshine and Whiskey. A few fan favorites included “Little Bit of Both,” “Helluva Life” and “Cigarette.”
Check out the biggest things to expect at your first country concert below:
1. Security will inspect your cowgirl boots at the door.
Most fans are used to having their bags inspected by security at sporting events and concerts, but country concertgoers can expect to have their boots checked as well, so extra alcohol (or snacks) are best left at home.
2. The crowd will be filled with loyal fans who sing along to every word.
If you don’t know all the lyrics, just hum along. There were multiple times throughout the show when Ballard would point his microphone toward the audience, who sang the verse until he joined back in. After every song, he tossed his guitar pick into the crowd, where a group of women near the front of the stage would scramble for it.
3. Performers get personal.
Ballard talked about the inspiration behind his lyrics, leaving love behind to pursue his music career and dreaming of performing on a big stage in Los Angeles while he was growing up in Michigan. He even knelt down to kiss the stage to show his gratitude. Ballard’s opener, Steven Ybarra, prefaced one song by explaining that he wrote it for his 6-year-old daughter.
4. The band will take shots onstage.
Maybe because they were playing the Whiskey a Go Go, but it seemed fitting that each member of the band, including Ballard, took a shot of Jack Daniel's near the end of the show.
5. Performers make an extra effort to interact with fans.
Ballard walked to the corners of the stage to get closer to the crowd as he played his guitar and reached out to hold fans’ hands. One audience member reached up to hand him her rubber bracelet, and he joked that it was a little tight as he slipped it onto his wrist before playing another song. He even looked straight into fans’ cell phone cameras as they recorded videos of him during his performance and incorporated the name of the venue into one of his songs.
Listen to Ballard's latest album, El Rio, below: