Nestled underneath the grandeur of the iconic Madison Square Garden is an intimate venue, The Hulu Theater at MSG. Friday night three of country music’s biggest rising acts took the stage to perform for a sold-out crowd, as the Make It Sweet Tour made its way to New York City.
One of our Swag Session alums, and 2019 Artists to Watch, Mitchell Tenpenny took the stage first, and it was remarkable to watch the room, which was almost completely packed at that early part of the night, engage with Tenpenny and his music. He sang “Truck I Drove In High School”, “Goner” and the title track to his debut album which was released late last year, “Telling All My Secrets”. Another great moment was watching him perform his current single “Alcohol You Later” and already seeing the crowd loving it.
“I’ve gotta thank you guys for changing our lives this year with our next song, gave us our first platinum song, which is crazy, I never thought that would happen, you bought it, you streamed the shit out of it, thank you so much for that.” Tenpenny humbly expressed to the crowd. “And then you requested it so much at radio, you gave us our first number one song, I was so grateful for that. And now we get to come to cool cities, like New York City and play our music.” He performed “Drunk Me” and throughout the entirety of the song, the whole crowd was singing back to him, at one point, he even stood back to just let them sing, it was an overwhelming moment for the singer-songwriter.
Closing the night with “Bitches”, a song that isn’t about “calling guys bitches or calling girls bitches, it’s about calling bitches, bitches,” he laughed. We watched his performance of this one, a song we caught during our Swag Session in 2017 and were so proud that we can champion him and continue to watch where his already successful career goes.
Next up was another artist that we chose back in 2018 as One to Watch, Jordan Davis. The singer-songwriter from Shreveport Lousiana already has two number one hits to his name and took full advantage of the sold-out crowd, running up and down the catwalk and interacting with the fans in the pit. His debut album, Home State is packed with radio-ready singles and he performed a few of them on Friday including “Selfish” which he mashed with Hailee Steinfeld’s “Starving”, “Leaving New Orleans”, and “Tough to Tie Down”. He also covered Tim McGraw’s classic, “Something Like That”, putting his own spin on it.
His set wouldn’t be complete without performing both of his number one hits, “Take It From Me” and “Singles You Up”. At this point, the pit in front of the stage was completely packed and all of the seats were filled and at times the audience screaming back the lyrics was so loud you could barely hear Davis. He left the stage and the crowd ready to enjoy the final act and headliners of the night, Old Dominion.
We’ve seen the guys in Old Dominion in some of the smallest rooms in New York City over the past few years including Joe’s Pub, Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, and Arlene’s Grocery. The important thing to remember is that no matter the size of the room or the number of people who are there to see them, they always give 110% percent of not only a high-energy performance but they can set your soul on fire with their meaningful lyrics and delivery.
Playing to a sold-out room in a much bigger venue, Old Dominion did just that for the lucky fans in attendance. Their set included their biggest radio hits including “Snapback”, “Break Up With Him”, “Hotel Key” and “Written in the Sand”. They also included a few album cuts that haven’t made their way to the radio which we know fans of the band were happy about like “Said Nobody” and “Half Empty” from their debut album Meat and Candy.
Highlights from their set included “New York At Night” where stunning visuals of our beautiful city lit up the background of the five band members as they sang lines like “With that just right Friday night curl in your hair / Got my heart beating louder than Madison Square / That electric energy / Something tells me you’re gonna keep me going til the morning light / Girl your like New York at night”. It seemed as if the songwriters (Brad Tursi, Trevor Rosen, and Jordan Schmidt) had written those lines specifically for that moment in time on Friday night.
Another rather surprising moment was when Matthew Ramsey stood at the front of the catwalk and announced they were going to sing their new song, “One Man Band” and from the first word to the last, the crowd was screaming the lyrics back to the band. It was such a special point of the night, watching loved ones turn to each other and sing the ballad, the emotion was palpable and could be felt throughout the room. Taking time to slow things down, Tursi, Rosen, and Ramsey took a seat at the top of the catwalk to chat with the audience about the culminating moments that led to them sitting in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater. They played the songs they have written for other artists that have become hits including “Wake Up Loving You”, “Better Dig Two”, “Make You Miss Me” and Michael Ray’s latest number one “One That Got Away”. “Before you ever realized it, you were listening to our music, and before country radio ever realized it they were playing our music, and as broke ass songwriters in Nashville, you need every little bit of motivation you can get,” Ramsey told the crowd. “Every song made us want to write another one, crowds got a little bigger, shows got a little better, we kept writing, we kept playing until finally we can come to New York City and play in a beautiful room like this one.”
Old Dominion closed the night with the first single revealed from their forthcoming project, the upbeat “Make It Sweet” and a throwback “Wrong Turns”. The magical night was the perfect way to kick off the summer concert season, bringing some of the best rising talents in Davis and Tenpenny as well as established stars Old Dominion to New York. Head to our calendar to find out all of the shows heading to our area this summer!
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