When I was a junior in high school Thomas Rhett had a show at the Cotton Eyed Joe in Knoxville, TN. The set would be comprised of songs off of It Goes Like This (2013). At the time I was only sixteen- the show was 18&up only. I humored my family by begging for permission to get a fake ID. I’m sure you are wondering if that materialized. It didn’t. My mom and older sister went without me.
All week I have been looking forward to the Home Team tour; I have been prepping by listening to T Rhett songs play through my headphones during walks to class.
After a morning of Biology II lecture I packed my bags and headed for Knoxville. When I arrived at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum I met up with my own home team: mom, sis, and my cousin.
7pm drew near and Kelsea Ballerini took the stage- “Yeah Boy” welcomed the crowd. Her ensemble was sparkly from head-to-toe; she was practically glowing in hometown glory. She highlighted the songs that have escalated her once hometown life to rising stardom: “Dibs” and “Love Me Like You Mean It”. She came bearing a breakup medley that was addressed to the first boy to break her heart, “that was probably at the show” as she said. Homeboy got roasted with her dialogue and interwoven cover songs such as “Sorry” by Justin Bieber and “Apologize” by Timbaland/OneRepublic.
Before Thomas Rhett took the stage, his wife Lauren took the DJ position. The crowd shared a moment of throwback rap songs- in unison: R. Kelly’s “Ignition”, DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win”, and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What”.
The end of the stage opened up and TR surprised the crowd with a jazzy version of “Crash and Burn”.
The funk of “South Side” stirred us to dance. When TR breaks to the bridge in a low, husky voice “shake it like salt, shake it like pepper” how could I not shake it in a 360 degree turn?
Thomas Rhett spoke of his history with Knoxville and that of his wife Lauren’s- UT alumni. With this in mind, there was a sense of homecoming in the air. Of no surprise, the Tennessee Vol chant erupted from the crowd.
TR spotted a Bass Pro Shop ball cap being worn by a man in the general admission pit. TR invited him up on stage and had him duet Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places”. All I’m saying is if I had a dollar for every concert I have been to that it has been covered at…
Although the Home Team Tour set was comprised of mainly songs off of Tangled Up (2015), past favorites were included: “Make Me Wanna”, “Get Me Some of That”, “It Goes Like This”, “Front Porch Junkies”, “Beer with Jesus”, and “Something to do with My Hands”.
As the show drew to an end TR gave us a taste of “Vacation”; serenaded us with “Die a Happy Man”, and introduced “T-Shirt” with a Led Zeppelin drum solo.
Unlike most musicians, there is no doubt of TR’s love for his wife. Aside from singing her praises, literally, it was as if the songs were for her not the crowd. The female characters in his songs point to her. She sat in the sound booth during the entirety of the show. The crowd separated them but I could not help but think that he was performing for an audience of one- his wife.
It is clear that Thomas Rhett’s second album draws heavy influence from Bruno Mars-the same is true for his live shows. TR and his band members often dance in synchronicity. Fittingly, the show concluded with a cover of “24k Magic”.
Home Team Merch: