The Wayne County Fair had only a three year tradition of country performers rocking the grandstand venue on their grounds before this summer, but that didn’t mean this year’s performer, 28-year-old rising star Chase Rice didn’t have a lot to live up to. With Jake Owen, Justin Moore, Craig Campbell and Eric Paslay gracing the stage previous years, the Asheville, North Carolina native knew he would have to be on his A-game to bring the party to Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Rice delivered and then some with a set that thrilled and entertained an appreciative and diverse crowd that included country music fans of all age groups.
Despite imminent threats of rain, thunder and lightening in the days preceding the show that promised to dampen the mood, and rain showers earlier in the day, the weather turned out to be beautiful during Rice’s set. After days filled with rides, shopping, games, farm animals and a lot of fried foods, fans streamed into the grandstand for the most anticipated event of the week, sponsored by local country radio station Froggy 101. In the moments before Rice took the stage and during the beginning of his set, the stage was framed by a gorgeous sunset, with streaks of red pink and gold painting the sky. As the show progressed, the sunset faded into a beautiful night sky, scattered with bright stars, and the colorful glow of the brightly lit rides throughout the fair ground became visible against the contrasting darkness.
Rice’s set, which opened with the funky “Do It Like This,” was unsurprisingly dominated by songs from his most recent full length album, Ignite The Night, which was released in August of 2014, and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Country Albums Chart, and #3 on the Billboard 200 Chart. Though many of these, such as the undeniably catchy “U-Turn,” the party anthem “Goin Out” that details some of his party days during college and the sultry “50 Shades of Crazy” are more uptempo and fun, Rice made a true impact with more serious and personal tracks like the nostalgic “Carolina Can,” the candid “Look At My Truck” (inspired by the Chevy Silverado his father bought when he was 8 years old that he still owns to this day) and the deeply intimate and touching “Jack Daniels and Jesus.” The latter songs are where Rice really proves himself as a talented savvy songwriter, though the former songs had the crowd up singing and dancing from the very start of the show. The personal nature of the aforementioned slower tracks give their live performances a touch of something truly special and unique. Though drastically different tracks, both “U-Turn” and “Carolina Can” have future single potential depending on the type of song Rice chooses to release.
The farm-raised country singer also showed he knows how to turn up the heat with the sexy “Ride” a fan-favorite track included on the iTunes “party edition” of Ignite The Night.” Though not a single, this songs popularity with fans has earned it enough traction to receive airplay on Sirius XM’s modern country station The Highway. For a special live version of this song, Rice invited an ecstatic (and slightly shell-shocked) female fan from the front row to sit next to him on stage, where he sang some of the sultry lyrics to her face to face. His sense of humor shined as he joked to the audience about making the fan’s boyfriend mad, and about how the fan’s grandmother was in attendance for the display. The performance had the female fans of all ages screaming.
Towards the end of the show, Rice introduced the members of his band in a unique way. He asked each of them to play a bit of one or two songs of their choice with each of their respective instruments, and he would join in to sing the lyrics. To the delight of many who grew up during to the pop-punk craze of the 90’s and early 2000’s, Rice’s guitarist Chris played Blink 182’s songs “All The Small Things,” “What’s My Age Again,” and a rousing version of Puddle of Mudd’s “She Fucking Hates Me.” His bassist Marcelo went with a country classic, “Friends In Low Places” by the infamous Garth Brooks, a cover that allowed the crowd, who knew every word to exercise their singing skills, before his drummer chose to forgo choosing a cover and instead opted to demonstrate his skills with a thunderous drum solo.
Rice’s set also included a cover of another Garth Brooks classic “Third Verse” which he heard live at the first concert he ever attended, and a performance of his laid back hit single “Gonna Wanna Tonight,” another track the the crowd had no problem singing along to. Rice finished up his set with the catchy, rock tinged “How She Rolls” and a cover of Florida Georgia Line’s #1 smash hit “Cruise” which he and the very successful duo wrote together. His performance of “Cruise included a sing-a-long section for the crowd, where they thunderously bellowed out the chorus into the night sky before Rice left the stage. After a rousing chants for one more song, Rice charged back on stage for an encore, closing an electrifying set with his platinum selling, top 5 single “Ready Set Roll,” which had fans on their feet singing and dancing one last time.
With much to live up to, Rice successfully continued the burgeoning tradition of talented, up-and-coming country performers enhancing the experience at the Wayne County Fair for all that attended the show. With a diverse setlist, charismatic stage presence, fun tracks, and skillful songwriting, Rice’s performance charmed and delighted fans, while undoubtedly gaining him many new followers along the way.