Few feats are as sweet as selling out your first stadium show in Nashville.
Maybe that’s why Luke Bryan, who packed the 40,000-seat Vanderbilt Stadium to capacity last Saturday night, invited openers Dustin Lynch, Thomas Rhett and Randy Houser back to the stage for a stripped-down, celebratory version of Maroon 5’s “Sugar.” Arriving less than halfway through his headlining set, the song gave the ever-moving Bryan a chance to cool his heels and take a seat behind the piano, which he played to the beat of a drum machine. To his right, Rhett and Lynch strummed along on acoustic guitars. To his right, Houser gamely attempted the bass.
“Randy Houser, how many times have you played bass guitar in your life?” Bryan asked midway through the tune. When Houser held up his hands in mock surrender and admitted, “Eight times,” Bryan laughed, adding, “That’s what happens when you’re on tour with me, Randy. You might have to do something you don’t typically do.”
Typical or not, all four singers seemed to be enjoying themselves, performing “Sugar” from the bottom of a catwalk that jutted its way into the audience. They traded harmonies, took selfies, battled each other in a game of vocal riffs (the winner: Houser) and sang snippets of both Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air‘s theme song before moving into Maroon 5’s biggest hit of 2015. Bryan kept things loose, kickstarting the whole tune with a toast — “Everybody on this stage tonight moved to this town to follow a dream, a country music dream, and you guys made it possible, [so] this is for you!” he said, downing a glass of something high-proof with his opening acts — and finishing up with a few moments of a cappella, four-part harmony. (Watch the entire 7-minute performance above.)
Florida Georgia Line, who rounded out the bill, joined Bryan later that night for their own duet, with all three singers tag-teaming Alabama’s “Mountain Music.” The entire crew will head to Cincinnati this week to perform at Paul Brown Stadium, with Bryan’s Kick the Dust Up Tour — normally a three-band bill featuring Lynch and Houser — continuing to crisscross the country for the rest of the summer.