PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. -- When sunshine and warmer weather take over and thousands of degree-seeking twentysomethings invade the beaches of Panama City, Luke Bryan must surely be in the vicinity.
Photo Credit: Melissa Loncaric Miller
Bryan's connection with the college crowds have made him as famous for spring break as any of his No. 1 songs. Taylor Reeverts, 19, of Byron, Ill., hopped in a car with five friends for the 17-hour trek to Florida to see Luke Bryan for the very first time. They arrived at Spinnaker Beach Club early Tuesday morning (March 12) for the first show and were far from alone in their attempt to secure the best view.
For many, the annual Panama City Beach/Luke Bryan trip has become a tradition, and the Bryan crew is no exception. Bryan's mother LeClaire Bryan has been at every one of his spring break shows since the very first one five years ago. Songwriter Dallas Davidson, who helped open last year's show, watched from the VIP area with the rest of the singer's entourage. Joe Rentz, Bryan's childhood friend, told of watching his rise to fame from playing under a carport for 20 people to becoming a major concert headliner and, of course, the king of spring break.
The task of warming up the crowd for this year's shows fell on the capable shoulders of singer-songwriter Cole Swindell, a fellow Georgia product who has written six songs on Bryan's series of Spring Break EPs. In some ways, Bryan seems to be the Adam Sandler of country music in keeping his friends active in his projects.
With the sun shining and a nip in the air, "Rain Is a Good Thing" officially kicked off Bryan's 90-minute set which included other titles from his growing list of mega hits such as "Someone Else Calling You Baby" and "Drunk on You" and songs from his Spring Break collections.
Bryan, as always, was interactive with his swarm of fans, sharing football tosses and cold drinks and even briefly getting pulled into the crowd. He took full advantage of the new catwalk Spinnaker Beach Club added for his shows so he could get close to the thousands on the beach who weren't able to make it into the club.
Never stationary, Bryan was sitting atop speakers, standing on railing and even climbed up to the highest point of the massive sound system to ask a magical question -- "Where are all my country girls at?" -- at the start of "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)." Even with mom watching the show, he wasn't afraid to showcase his dance moves.
Never one to stick to his own collection of songs, Bryan treated the crowd to "Shine Down," "My Kinda Party," "Family Tradition," "Hillbilly Deluxe," "Fishin' in the Dark" and Metallica's "Enter Sandman."
"I want this night to last forever, Panama City!" Bryan exclaimed as he combined Taio Cruz's hit "Dynamite" and his own "I Don't Want This Night to End."
As the show came to a close, Bryan announced, "We're gonna DJ til the sun goes down!" and flawlessly made the transition from live country music to rap tunes.
For Wednesday's show at Spinnaker Beach Club, he's scheduled to bring along tourmates Florida Georgia Line. With the spring break concerts behind him, Bryan resumes his Dirt Road Diaries tour on Thursday in Orange Beach, Ala., with Thompson Square and Florida Georgia Line.