"Being on a Kenny Chesney tour, I think is a dream that I've had since I was 19 years old," Thomas Rhett told PopCulture.com.
"(Jason) Aldean's done it, Eric Church has done it, Miranda (Lambert) has done it. Anybody who is somebody has done that tour," he said, "and there's a reason for that, and it's because Kenny has perfected the art of learning how to entertain 70,000 people for two hours.
"It really is a terrifying thing to go embark on. Last year playing at Gillette two nights in a row was the first time I'd ever done a stadium, first of all, two nights in a row, and second of all, gotten to even play at dark," he said of the two shows he opened for Chesney in 2017. He joked that when he's done stadiums before, it's been earlier in the evening when the place wasn't even half full. "It's really awkward."
But what he saw at those shows was a headliner who knew exactly what to do when it was his turn on the stage.
"I feel like I got to learn so much even in just those two days of watching how Kenny connects to the person in the front row, and the person in the nosebleeds. That's a very hard thing to do, and so I'm anxious to get out there and obviously do our set, but then just learn so much from Kenny. I think that's every artist's dream is to one day headline stadiums."
And it's not all business on a Chesney tour. There's some pleasure, too, for Rhett, and anyone else who came as his guest. "(Chesney) sets up this gigantic space next to his bus where he has a Tiki bar and food trucks and music playing. Literally, before the show and after the show, I could have walked up to Kenny and said, 'Hey dude, I have 30 family members here, can (they come in)? Is that cool?' Yeah, come on.
"He treats everybody like you're their family, and I think that's what creates such a unique and fun atmosphere with Kenny backstage, and that's why so many people want to tour with him," he said.
Rhett will wrap up his own headlining tour on April 20 in Jacksonville, Fla. and then immediately join Chesney the next day in Tampa.