FGL: an un­likely coun­try hy­brid that likes to party

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - GRA­HAM ROCKINGHAM grock­ing­ham@thespec.com 905-526-3331 | @Rock­atTheSpec

Florida Ge­or­gia Line isn’t your typ­i­cal coun­try act. Far from it.

Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kel­ley — the two front­men for the Nashville-based group — don’t even wear the uni­form.

Hubbard dons the garb of a gangsta rap­per, black hoodie and ball cap worn back­wards, while Kel­ley prefers a more retro look, long hair, beard, wide-brimmed feath­ered fe­dora and a red ban­dana hang­ing from a back pocket.

They don’t hang out with your typ­i­cal Nashville crowd, ei­ther. They have col­lab­o­rated with the Back­street Boys, reg­gae star Ziggy Mar­ley and rap­per Nelly, as well as coun­try stal­warts like Tim McGraw and Luke Bryan.

They like slip­ping snip­pets of songs by House of Pain and Papa Roach into their live set, and their record pro­ducer, Joey Moi, is best known for his work with Nick­el­back.

Florida Ge­or­gia Line, it seems, is the new face of coun­try — mu­sic for peo­ple who like to party, hope­fully with­out puk­ing on their boots.

And the more than 12,000 fans who packed into Hamil­ton’s FirstOn­tario Cen­tre Wed­nes­day to see Florida Ge­or­gia Line cer­tainly came to party.

It seemed like ev­ery sec­ond hand in the arena was grip­ping a tall boy. De­spite the fact that Old Camp Whiskey was the show spon­sor, Bud­weiser ap­peared to be the weapon of choice.

The Florida Ge­or­gia Line sound is an un­likely hy­brid of rock, rap, pop and coun­try that has made the duo into one of the hottest coun­try acts in the world. It may not be high art, not even close, but it is very pop­u­lar.

It would all seem quite rev­o­lu­tion­ary, too, if their songs didn’t con­tain all the male-dom­i­nated clichés that have ruled Nashville for the past 25 years — fast cars, Fri­day nights, cow­girls in cut-offs, pickup trucks, whiskey, beer and God.

Hubbard and Kelly de­liv­ered a high-en­ergy show. Backed by a crack-five piece band and an im­pres­sive ar­ray of py­rotech­nics, they opened with three sure­fire party rock­ers — “This Is How We Roll,” “It’z Just What We Do,” and “Round Here” — that, ex­cept for mi­nor vari­a­tions, could eas­ily all be the same song.

There were some ten­der mo­ments, though. It wouldn’t be a coun­try show with­out them. There was the sentimental home­town song “Dig Your Roots,” the re­morse­ful “Con­fes­sion,” and the sickly sweet “God, Your Mama, and Me.”

Hubbard and Kel­ley even showed they could do some tra­di­tional coun­try har­monies on “Smooth.”

They moved to a sec­ondary stage in the midst of the au­di­ence for the megahit farm ser­e­nade “Dirt” and their lat­est sin­gle, the sin­ga­long love song “H.O.L.Y,” as well as a camp­fire style med­ley that in­cluded “Dayum, Baby,” “Hell Raisin’ Heat of the Sum­mer,” and “Here’s to the “Good Times.”

The bal­lads came to a close and Florida Ge­or­gia Line shifted back into party mode for “Sun Daze” (with some help from open­ing acts Dustin Lynch, Chris Lane and Mor­gan Wallen) and “Get Your Shine On.”

The encore opened with “Party Peo­ple” and a med­ley of cov­ers that in­cluded Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me,” Toby Keith’s “Should’ve Been a Cow­boy” and Back­street Boy’s “Every­body.”

It has only been five years since Florida Ge­or­gia Line’s break­through hit “Cruise” — Wed­nes­day night’s inevitable clos­ing num­ber — dom­i­nated the coun­try charts, so the group’s cat­a­logue is rel­a­tively lim­ited com­pared to more es­tab­lished acts.

Wed­nes­day’s set lasted a lit­tle more than 80 min­utes, 15 songs and two med­leys. But it was enough to sat­isfy the sell out crowd.

I’m sure the Florida Ge­or­gia Line set lists will grow longer in the fu­ture with even more oddly matched col­lab­o­ra­tions. How about Florida Ge­or­gia Line meets Me­tal­lica or, maybe even, Justin Bieber?

GARY YOKOYAMA, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Brian Kel­ley, left, and Tyler Hubbard played to a sell­out crowd Wed­nes­day at FOC.

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