Bri and Ty’s Bogus Journey
Respect for and deference to its musical traditions has always been among the most defining and sustaining traits of country music, which is why it seemed natural for the duo Florida Georgia Line, its latest and biggest sensation, to pepper their set with a choice array of covers. The catch? The most recent set of influences that have informed Florida Georgia Line to a No. 1 country album is the hiphop astroturf that Kid Rock and Uncle Kracker have laid down over the last decade.
At their sold-out show at the Greensboro Coliseum on Nov. 23, it was clear from the pre-show melee in the general admission pit at the front of the stage that this wasn’t country, and you can definitely kiss its ass. Baby-faced partiers two-stepped around the pit to radio-friendly dubstep joints blasting over the house system before the lights dropped and a bouncy intro track asked, “Are you ready to party with the Florida Georgia Line?” If it’s not evident from the title of their hit debut record, Here’s to the Good Times, Florida Georgia Line is committed to the idea of mindless celebration at all costs. They trolled for cheap applause by throwing up images of the University of North Carolina’s 2009 men’s basketball champions when it ostensibly made little sense. Videos of them cavorting with models in Mexico, on the beach, in pick-up trucks, and everywhere but on Kanye’s motorcycle rolled through out the night. You could mark time by the instances where Hubbard, whose razor thin voice serves as the de facto lead, high-fived his partner Kelley, who sings little outside of the more robust accents.
They’re evidence that country is not so much a pedigree as it is a posture, utilizing tropes from well outside Nashville conventions when it suits their audience. They added blast beats to a cover of Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” for the metal kids and over halfway through their set, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley welcomed the evening’s supporting acts, Tyler Farr and Colt Ford, to help them foment their hip-hop pedigree. For a band that blithely named a tune “Get Your Shine On” after Lil’ Wayne and Birdman had a hit of the same name, they seemed comfortable dabbling in Lil Troy’s Houston classic “Wanna Be A Baller,” but less so when engaging the pandering Macklemore hit “Thrift Shop.” It could have gotten worse from there, and it did.
With a practically all white crowd of 14,000-plus, the one faux pas Hubbard had to be careful to avoid went nuclear when twisting up the radio edit of Kanye’s “Gold Digger.” “I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold digger/But she ain’t messin’ with no broke-broke,” Hubbard took care to say. It was the next time around that he put the mic up in the air after the first “broke” that he baited the crowd into audibly dropping the unspeakable word. They comfortable in hip hop, sure, but maybe they shouldn’t get that comfortable. . !