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John Lamb, Published October 05 2013

Review: Florida Georgia Line finds 'party people' at Scheels Arena in Fargo

FARGO – Contemporary country music can march to the beat of a different drummer, and that was plenty evident Saturday night at Scheels Arena.

Florida Georgia Line headlined a booming concert that was as much rock and hip-hop as country.

The group gained a whole new crossover audience when Nelly remixed their hit “Cruise” earlier this year and the duo dropped the beats from their opener, “Itz Just What We Do.”

Brian Kelley (the short-haired one from Florida) and Tyler Hubbard (the long-haired one from Georgia) tag-teamed vocals and emceeing, creeping, running, strutting, flexing and fist-bumping across the stage and up and down the catwalk.

What they do, in particular, is deliver high-energy anthems, like “Party People” and “Tip It Back,” as if the packed house of 5,800 needed to be told how to celebrate. On the off chance the young crowd didn’t catch on, Kelley and Hubbard asked them to drink along during a break in “Round Here.”

Drinking games at a “country” show, they’ll fit right in when they return to WE Fest next year.

I just hope they release some new material. With only one full-length album, they drew out a number of songs, including a segue into some Nelly and 50 Cent during “Country in My Soul,” a song that didn’t make it onto their LP. The title track, “Here’s to the Good Times,” got a lengthy sing-along and they even played a video with their voiceover dismissing the notion that the three-year-old act is an overnight success.

The video screens got one of the biggest cheers when it flashed the score from the NDSU Bison football victory earlier in the day.

Still, the crowd didn’t seem to mind the padded set and didn’t need to be told to “stand up” or “make some noise,” as even those with seats stood for the whole 90-minute show, which ended with a cover of Alabama’s “I’m in a Hurry” and, of course, “Cruise.”

After opener Dallas Smith, Colt Ford set the tempo with his drawled out hick-hop that legitimately had hands waving in the air like the young crowd just didn’t care.

The singer showed his lyrical flow on “Back” and “Drivin’ Around Song,” before closing with his “Dirt Road Anthem.”

For as booming and bass-heavy as the show was, the arena’s efforts to adapt the hockey house into a suitable concert venue showed improvement.

But if the building’s management wants to get serious about being a concert destination, $10 for parking should get you something a lot better than a spot in a grass lot across the street.

Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533