Jake Owen Brings the Beach Party to Nashville for Hometown Show

Jake Owen waited 13 years for a headlining show in Nashville and his near-capacity performance on Thursday (April 27) at Ascend Amphitheater proved that some things in life are well worth the wait. Owen’s 80-minute set saw the singer dancing around stage barefoot in blue jeans and a white t-shirt as he grinned from ear to ear. It was a long journey to headliner and Owen shared his appreciation with the audience several times throughout the evening.

“Thank you so much for coming out tonight,” he said. “It’s a huge night for me and the guys in the band. It means the world to me and I can’t think you guys enough. In a town full of so much talent, I’m so flattered that you’d come out and see the boys and I play.”

Jake Owen; Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for Sony Music Nashville

Jake Owen; Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for Sony Music Nashville

Owen’s band included a horn section which brought life to the set and had the crowd on their feet for the entire night. He kicked things off with his signature hit “Beachin'” and as palm trees swayed on stage and images of the beach were displayed in the background, the Florida native brought the summer vibe to Nashville. His energetic set continued with a slew of feel-good songs including the laid-back “Summer Jam” and previous single “Real Life” before he showcased his country roots with an animated cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”

“Are you all ready to have one hell of a time?” he asked the crowd. “We’re gonna hang out and rock all night.”

Owen didn’t fall back on his word as he showcased his fun side with the playful “VW Van,” “Eight Second Ride,” “Yee Haw” and “Good Company,” all highlighted by his standout horn section. Other songs, including “Alone with You,” “The One That Got Away” and “Don’t Think I Can’t Love You,” exemplified his climb to headliner status as each showed his power as a vocalist and ability to share more serious story songs.

Later, he’d tell the story of how 13 years ago when he was hours away from graduating at Florida State University he called his parents and said he wanted to move to Nashville. While his parents weren’t the happiest, he said they’ve always been encouraging and supportive of him chasing after his dream.

“I moved here a week later and met a lady who’s in the crowd tonight who worked at the bank,” he recalled. “She set up my bank account, asked me what I was here doing and I gave her my CD. Next thing you know 13 years later I’m here to sing and play for a bunch of people.”

Jake Owen and Eric Paslay; Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for Sony Music Nashville

Jake Owen and Eric Paslay; Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for Sony Music Nashville

Owen’s energy never wavered and after a short break he entered the stage alone with his acoustic guitar for a memorable solo encore performance of Merle Haggard’s “Footlights” before kicking the energy back up with a sing along of “American Country Love Song.” He then invited opener Eric Paslay back out to the stage during arena anthem and set closer “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” which Paslay penned. After singing several verses Owen went into the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, once again running around the stage with a big smile on his face.

“This night made my life,” Owen said as he walked off the stage. “There’s no way this night could get better.”

The audience screamed in agreement as fireworks lit up the Nashville skyline. Though it may have taken Owen 13 years to headline a show in Music City, he made every minute worth his while.

Singer/songwriter Paslay and country rockers LANco opened the evening and each showcased their distinct brand of country music. While LANco’s guitar-driven “Trouble Maker” highlighted their party side with catchy lines and scream along choruses, new single “Greatest Love Story” shared their penchant for story songs while accenting their country roots.

Eric Paslay; Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for Sony Music Nashville

Eric Paslay; Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for Sony Music Nashville

Paslay, meanwhile, was a standout opener who segued seamlessly from the high energy and dance-filled songs like “Keep On Fallin’,” “Song About a Girl” and “High Class” to the more poignant as the stunning “Less Than Whole” and “She Don’t Love You,” both of which hushed the rowdy audience. Throughout his set he shared his love of songwriting.

“We like writing songs in this town,” he said prefacing “Angel Eyes,” which he co-wrote with Love and Theft. He’d later play another hit he penned for Eli Young Band, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” and share his appreciation for the Nashville songwriting community.

“I love this town because I get to do what I love. You never know where the next song is hiding. Thanks for letting me do what I love,” he said before closing his set with “Friday Night,” his first No. 1 as an artist.