Country singer Corey Smith visited Radford University on Nov. 3, and nearly filled Preston Hall. With only about the back eight rows empty, a sea of flannel shirts and baseball caps filled the auditorium in anticipation.
Never before have I seen people loudly singing to the house music that plays before the band comes on, but these fans were clearly excited. During the show they had an electrical energy. People were dancing and singing to every song and trying to clap along. I say trying because they seemed to have trouble clapping to the faster paced rhythms.
The main thing that bothered me about the crowd was when Smith tried to talk in between songs, many of the people would start shouting. Not in a “you rock” kind of way but more in a “you better start playing music again” kind of way. In fact, when Smith even mentioned that he may play a new song that some might not be familiar with, some booed. Smith then played a known song to appease.
Smith played song after song with very little time in between. The band played very well, and Smith sounded great. I’m not a fan of the country voice, which to me is the same on every country album, but that doesn’t change the fact that Smith sang very well and hit a wide variety of notes. His songs were a nice adjustment from many modern country tracks.
Unfortunately, as far the lyrics go, it wasn’t to my liking. It had the common themes that have become a punch line for this genre: my wife left me, my dog is my only friend, I’m drinking all night long and I love this country and Jesus. Now clearly, I’m not the target audience. This was the kind of audience that cheered proudly at the mention of the Bible, and as I overheard someone say, “I’m not white, I’m a redneck American.” But the audience loved it.
Smith truly did do a superb job of putting on a great show. That’s what a good entertainer does. He may have not won me over in the genre, but I recognize that he brought energy, pumped up the crowd and the crowd was absolutely thrilled to be there.