Set list be damned. Forget the lighting and the staging. Instead, grab a beer, a good buddy and enjoy the atmosphere. After all, it’s almost spring break time for Luke Bryan and his adoring fans who will soon be soaking up the rays and new music during his two-day performance at Spinnaker’s Beach Club in Panama City, Fla., on Tuesday and Wednesday (March 13-14).
“Just turn the speakers up and kind of let it all happen,” said Bryan who recently stopped by CMT’s offices to chat about his latest spring break concert. Among his hits, he’ll be showcasing brand new songs from his four-song EP, Spring Break 4 … Suntan City.
“Everybody’s there just to have a good time and keep it loose,” he said. “It’s fun to get up there and do whatever you want to — not have too many parameters.”
This year marks the singer-songwriter’s fourth annual spring break performance. In fact, he admits it’s one of the only shows where you can actually catch him enjoying a cold beverage (or two) along with the crowd.
“My main thing is to always capture the fun,” he said of the anything-goes environment. “When you kick off a big stadium show or a live show, everybody’s got their marks and places to be. You can’t really deviate. With spring break, we do whatever we want to.”
What’s more, if fans are craving for a glimpse of what these shows are really like, his latest music video for “Suntan City” confirms the excitement. Highlighting last year’s festivities, the footage features everything from bikini-clad women to beer-funneling men, who all naturally know every word to Bryan’s catchy beach-themed tunes.
“The most gratifying moment for me … is everybody there knows the new music,” he said.
His just-released EP includes all-new songs he co-wrote — “Spring Breakup,” “Little Bit Later On,” “Shake the Sand” and, of course, his lighthearted “Suntan City.”
Written with fellow Georgia songwriters Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip — collectively known as the Peach Pickers — the idea for “Suntan City” came about while they enjoyed steaks and threw back a few beers in what Bryan lovingly refers to as his “man room.” The song practically wrote itself within the course of a few hours.
“When you’ve got a great title and a good road map, it’s easy sometimes,” he said of the songwriting process. “It seemed to flow that day.”
Performing his new songs as well as fan-favorite hits like his most recent No.1 songs, “I Don’t Want This Night to End” and “Country Girl (Shake It for Me),” he also throws in a few cover songs during his concerts, as well. In fact, Bryan still looks back and remembers his own Panama City pastimes when he and his high school buddies would pack up and make the three-hour jaunt from his hometown of Leesburg, Ga.
But at the end of the day, it’s Bryan who is now singing the soundtrack for many of his followers’ spring break memories.
“When I look at somebody who really gave me a vision of how to do shows — when I see Chesney shows and the fun behind that and the old Garth shows — I just came to town wanting shows that make people have a blast. And that’s always what I wanted to do.”
But he’s not divulging all of his upcoming onstage surprises for the shows in Florida.
“We try to spice it up every year, try to keep a little something different for them.”
Currently touring on Jason Aldean’s My Kinda Party tour, Bryan will continue his concert dates March 16 in Wichita, Kan. The tour runs through September.
“Jason and I are really, really close,” he said. “We’re just really good friends who are lucky enough to have our dream job and do what we want to for a living and be out on tour and doing it together. I’ve learned the power of big songs, the power of a great, high-energy show.”
With significant milestones already achieved this year alone — a No. 1 album (Tailgates & Tanlines), a platinum hit (“Do I” ), a gold and No.1 song (“I Don’t Want This Night to End”), and a new single already climbing the charts (“Drunk on You”), his present aspirations are simply to maintain and treasure these experiences.
“My new goals are to continue to enjoy it, try to rest a little better … just to maintain being happy in all this. … My main thing is to make sure I really enjoy getting to do this for a living.”