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Five of the Best Things We Experienced on Opening Night of Dan + Shay The (Arena) Tour

The “10,000 Hours” duo brought a super-sized night of hits to their first of two sold-out shows at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

Five of the Best  Things We Experienced on Opening Night of Dan + Shay The (Arena) Tour
Dan + Shay; Photo credit: Catherine Powell

For their first-ever arena tour, Dan + Shay debuted their new super-sized production in the place where it all began—Nashville, Tenn. The two-time GRAMMY® winners officially kicked off Dan + Shay The (Arena) Tour with two back-to-back sold-out nights at Bridgestone Arena. The performances capped a hard week in the group’s hometown following the unprecedented tornadoes that killed 25 people across the state of Tennessee. Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney carefully balanced a beautiful evening of both appropriate levity and unity, reserving multiple moments for the resilience of their city to shine amidst devastation, while also serving up lighthearted fun in an effort to relieve heavy hearts. They were also both visibly moved by the way fans showed up to support their tour launch. With a set list that showcased their massive hits and showmanship that elevated their raw talent, Dan + Shay proved this may be their first arena tour, but it certainly won’t be their last.

Dan + Shay; Photo credit: Catherine Powell

1. Nashville Strong

Prior to Friday night’s show, Dan + Shay announced that they would be making a $100,000 donation to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to aid tornado victims. In addition, the tour’s promoter, AEG Presents; Dan + Shay’s management company, Sandbox Entertainment; their booking agency, CAA; and the venue, Bridgestone Arena, worked together to make sure a portion of every ticket sold for both Nashville dates went to tornado relief as well. At multiple points throughout the evening, Dan + Shay expressed their sadness over the devastation, with Dan even revealing that the duo had made all of their records to date in one of the city’s hardest hit areas, East Nashville. He also added that he and his wife, Abby, called East Nashville home for the past seven years and had only recently moved into another neighborhood. The duo dedicated the sentimental “From The Ground Up” to their hometown, as cell phones lit up Bridgestone Arena and fans held up signs that read “Nashville Strong.”

2. Family First

Just like “From The Ground Up” emphasizes a growing-old-together kind of love, Dan + Shay’s growing repertoire is full of songs rooted in commitment. Their arena tour shed an even brighter light on the duo’s love for their families. When the duo performed 3x Platinum smash “Speechless” toward the end of the night, the screens filled with footage from their respective real-life weddings, with close-ups of Abby Smyers and Hannah Mooney, who were also both in the audience. However, the evening’s sweetest moment arrived during an acoustic set with Dan on guitar and Shay on piano. As the duo performed a stripped-down version of “When I Pray For You,” Shay’s oldest son, Asher James, joined daddy on stage for an emotional performance of the song written for his firstborn.

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3. Hit List

From start to finish, Dan + Shay’s first arena date was propelled forward by hit after massive hit. They surprised fans by serving up their latest global smash, “10,000 Hours”—currently spending its 21st consecutive week at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart—at the top of the show. (Sorry kids, Justin Bieber didn’t make a cameo at the Nashville stop.) Not surprisingly, they concluded the set with a massive confetti-filled toast to the song that took their career to the next level, 4x Platinum “Tequila.” While the duo sang every single song from 2018’s landmark self-titled release, they also sprinkled in hits from previous albums. Fans didn’t miss a beat, singing along to every word as Dan + Shay brought several b-sides to life as well, including stripped-down versions of fan favorites “Lipstick” and “Already Ready” and an impressive full-band, full-production performance of “Lately.”

4. Unlikely Opening Acts

Buzz-worthy newcomer Ingrid Andress opened the show with a brief set introducing selections from her upcoming label debut, Lady Like (releasing Mar. 27, 2020 via Warner Nashville). Nowhere was her rising popularity more evident than when she took a seat behind the keyboard for “More Hearts Than Mine,” leading the capacity crowd in the night’s first sincere singalong. At first blush, the next opening slot, filled by indie rock act The Band Camino and void of any Country trademarks, might have seemed an odd choice. However, the Nashville transplants proved one of the highlights of the evening, seamlessly transitioning from Andress’ storytelling prowess and teeing up the power of Dan + Shay’s crossover appeal. The Band Camino’s original pop gems—mostly borrowed from their Elektra Records debut, tryhard—and tight musicianship were topped only by their personal sincerity as they openly thanked Dan Smyers for being the group’s biggest fan since their inception.

Dan + Shay; Photo credit: Catherine Powell

5. The + B-Stage

If there was an award for “Best Use of a B-Stage During a Tour,” Dan + Shay would win. Instead of going the typical touring route of employing the b-stage as a secondary landing space, the duo’s b-stage—creatively laid out in the shape of their signature plus sign—became the focal point of the evening. They made their grand entrance from its depths, belting out “10,000 Hours.” They introed “Lately” in a cage-like box from the b-stage, and they started “Speechless” on its central lift surrounded by smoke. They also played an impressive off-the-cuff acoustic set there, showcasing their unfiltered musical abilities; and they high-fived fans from the stage’s four-pronged edges as they rolled through a string of hits. The “+” stage lived up to its name as a welcome, creative addition, allowing Dan + Shay to remain in the thick of their audience throughout their 90-minute set—so much so that the massive elevated platform behind them, backed by a three-part LED screen, acted as more of a horizontal catwalk than a main stage. Meanwhile, the b-stage became the central focus of the night’s tasteful, but amped-up production.

Dan + Shay The (Arena) Tour will travel to 35+ cities through the end of October.