PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. — For countless college students throughout the nation, catching Luke Bryan’s spring show here at Spinnaker Beach Club has become as much a part of their college experience as midterms and all-nighters. Who would have guessed a handful of party-themed songs would result in big sales for Bryan and a major event each year?
This year, Bryan marked his fourth annual visit to the club with a new batch of party anthems on his just-released EP, Spring Break 4 … Suntan City.
Bryan began Tuesday (March 13) with an early afternoon meet-and-greet at the local Walmart store before heading to the club for the first of two evenings of free, all-ages shows.
Fans began pouring into the club when doors opened to find that along with his T-shirts, flip-flops and beverages of choice, Bryan also brought along two of his songwriter friends, Rhett Akins and Dallas Davidson, to warm up the crowd. They’ve written several hits with Bryan, including his latest No. 1 single, “I Don’t Want This Night to End.”
Far from a newcomer to the business, Akins took to the stage as he did when he was headlining shows almost a decade ago. This time, however, he brought along a barstool and a slew of hits he and Davidson have written for other artists, including Blake Shelton’s “All About Tonight,” Rodney Atkins’ “Take a Back Road” and Billy Currington’s “That’s How Country Boys Roll.”
Before long, the stage was cleared, and with no big spotlight or dramatic introduction, Bryan moseyed onto the stage and instantly kicked off “Rain Is a Good Thing.” When he casually asked the crowd a simple question — “How ya doing, Panama City?” — he got a response equivalent to someone saying, “Who wants a $100 bill?”
Cranking out hits like “Country Man” and “Someone Else Calling You Baby,” Bryan shouted to his fans, “Welcome to the time of your life!’
The audience represented a wide spectrum of Bryan’s fans — not only college students on spring break but parents, kids, locals and tourists alike. And the rule for his spring break shows is that there are no rules — no set list, no time limit and no special effects.
“’Here’s the deal,'” Bryan explained. “We’re gonna play my songs, then we’re gonna play whatever the hell we want.”
And that they did. He and his band breezed through the songs on the new EP before moving to a collection of cover tunes ranging from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Fishin’ in the Dark” and Alabama’s “Dixieland Delight” to Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” and the Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How to Dougie.”
Bryan performed his current single, “Drunk on You,” followed by “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” and “All My Friends Say,” before he invited Akins back to the stage to share the microphone on “That Ain’t My Truck,” Akins’ Top 10 hit from 1995.
By the close of the show, the fans inside the club were exhausted, the beach behind the club was a solid sea of people that extended into the water and Bryan was barefoot. The music ended with Poison’s “Nothin’ but a Good Time.”
Bryan and friends are scheduled to play the Spinnaker Beach Club again on Wednesday before heading back on the road with Jason Aldean’s My Kinda Party tour which picks back up Friday (March 16) in Wichita, Kan.View photos from Luke Bryan’s spring break concert.