LIVE: Chase Rice at Empire Live, Albany 10/15/2021

On Friday night, Empire Live welcomed country superstar Chase Rice’s “AM/PM Tour” to their stage. Hundreds of country music fans piled into downtown Albany’s newest live music venue, filling it from front to back. The room, brimming with flannel shirts, cowboy boots and ripped denim could have been mistaken for any country club on Broadway in Nashville.

Rice is currently touring in support of his most recent release, the three part “The Album.” He took the stage shortly after 9:15pm to a raucous, rowdy welcome from the near capacity crowd. Kicking the set off with “American Nights” from his newest release, Rice and his band served notice that they were there for a good night. His lead guitarist, John Souki stepped to the end of the stage thrust and absolutely melted the faces of the fans in front with a blistering solo. “Break. Up. Drunk” had the fans throwing their hands and drinks in the air as they sang the lyrics back at Rice.

Rice commanded the stage, connecting with fans from stage left to stage right. He ran through hit after hit, but the song that stood out to me was his newest. “If I Were Rock and Roll” was written during the COVID shutdown and will be going out to country radio shortly. Halfway through the set, Rice’s band quietly exited the stage. Rice stood alone in the spotlight with his Martin acoustic. A stripped down rendition of Eric Church’s classic “Sinners Like Me” had almost everyone in attendance singing along to the chorus.

Rice closed the show with his three biggest hits. “Eyes on You” from 2017’s Lambs & Lions was his first single to hit number one on Billboard’s Country Chart. A young fan from the front row was pulled onto stage to help with “Cruise.” The song, written by Rice was a monster, career defining single for Florida Georgia Line. When Rice introduced his band, they each did snippets of popular songs including, “My Own Worst Enemy, “All The Small Things,” and “Sweet Caroline.” Rice closed his set with his most recent number one single “Drinkin Beer. Talkin’ God. Amen.”

Local country phenom, David J opened the night with a tight forty-five minute set of original songs and popular covers. Opening with a surprising cover of The Beatles “Come Together,” he showed a stage presence much more advanced than that of the average seventeen year old. His backing band is anchored by the intense playing of lead guitarist Ben Zoleski. David J has been splitting time between Nashvile and New York. His performance showed that the influence of Nashville is rubbing off on him. This is a kid with big things in store.

Photo Gallery by Claude Sawyer

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