Despite gray skies that threatened downtown Nashville all afternoon, rains never dampened Jake Owen’s “Beach Party,” which went down Monday night in the parking lot of BMI’s headquarters on Music Row and featured surprise guests the likes of Lee Brice, Mike Posner, Dan + Shay and more. Owen hosted a similar parking-lot party last summer, but this year’s installment — which drew a thousands-strong crowd of country music fans — was in celebration of the 32-year-old Florida native’s latest Number One hit, “Beachin’.”
Fifty minutes after Nashville’s own practitioners of Southern rock grooves, the Cadillac Three, wrapped their opening set, Owen took the stage barefoot and wearing a Waylon Jennings T-shirt as his band launched into the titular tune from December’s escapist Days of Gold. His stage decked out like a beachside cabana — complete with dock rope, a palm tree, the whole nine — Owen elicited big cheers with singles like “Anywhere With You,” “Yee Haw” and “Alone With You.” But the song of the evening was “Beachin’,” during which the singer sported a lei while the crowd passed around dozens of oversized beach balls, hooting, hollering and hoisting beer cans aloft.
While Owen’s beach-bum vibes were to be expected, the true surprise of the night was the singer’s cavalcade of guest performers. Youngster duo Dan + Shay showed up to play their tune “19 You + Me.” Perpetually backwards-hatted Lee Brice appeared for an all-too-appropriate performance of his “Parking Lot Party,” while Brothers Obsorne singer T.J. Osborne delivered an also party-suitable “Rum” and Sonia Leigh dropped “If Ya Wanna Get Some Booty.” Perhaps the most unlikely cameo came courtesy of pop songster Mike Posner, who delivered his single “Cooler Than Me” while Owen bopped around the stage taking photos with fans’ smartphones.
The set was largely populated by Owen’s characteristic feel-good songs alongside goofy covers like Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby,” a show-ending rendition of Van Halen’s “Jump” (during which Owen’s slew of guest stars returned to the stage) and a few bars of Sublime’s “What I Got” that found their way into the end of “Pass a Beer.” He serenaded a couple of radio contest winners with solo acoustic renditions of tunes by his onetime tourmates Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn — Jackson’s “Chattahoochee” and B&D’s “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” — and brought up a couple of young fans to join him on his torch song “The One That Got Away.”
But the show wasn’t without its poignant moments, like when Owen dedicated his ballad “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You” not only to his own father, who recently “kicked cancer’s ass,” but also to anyone who, like himself, moved to Music City to chase dreams of stardom. The singer was grateful, he said, to live and play in a city where he can surround himself with talented people, and while some of the night’s rowdier fans may have passed one too many beers, Owen’s beach bash went off largely without a hitch.