Words and photos by Carson Rich
Multi-Platinum country music artist Thomas Rhett hit the stage on his “Home Team Tour 23,” lighting up the Veterans Memorial Arena with special guests Cole Swindell and Nate Smith. Rhett has drawn up quite an amount of buzz over the past decade, making himself a prominent face in the genre, and the way he controlled the crowd on his Jacksonville stop showed why.
Nate Smith electrified the arena by proving why he deserves all of the praise he gets. His resounding voice took everyone by surprise, as his debut hit “World On Fire” set the mood for what was to come. Smith acted as if he had been rocking the stage for decades with his calmness, using his personality to elevate his performance to the next level. Shortly after, Cole Swindell opened wearing a T-shirt that had a picture of country music legend Randy Travis on the front. During his hit “She Had Me At Heads Carolina,” he incorporated Travis’ name into the lyrics and gave a heartfelt message about him being his idol growing up and how he feels grateful to be in the position he’s in. Then it was time for the main act to begin.
Thomas Rhett, the 33 year-old Georgia native, got straight to business, coming out of the gate playing a drum kit while an eerie aroma of smoke poured out from beneath him. As he began to face the seats, everyone lost their minds to the sight of him wearing a Jacksonville Jaguars hat, representing the home team everyone knows and loves. Rhett curated his setlist in a way that could please any fan, given that he has more than a handful of family favorites in his impressive catalog. From chart-topping tunes like “Crash and Burn” to familiar favorites like “Die A Happy Man,” he reminded Duval County why he was on that stage.
He also performed songs from his latest album, “Where We Started,” released last year. Taking advantage of this time where everyone is starting to get into the fall mindset, Rhett featured the song “Slow Down Summer” as a cry out to the memories that are made during the heat of the season. Later on, Rhett officially stole the show by performing covers from different eras that had every face screaming all of the words. Popular songs like “Jessie’s Girl,” “3AM” and “The Middle” kept the crowd roaring with excitement as the country music star ventured into other genres.
After a decade of releases and over 20 No. 1 songs, the “Home Team Tour” was nothing short of “Unforgettable.” Most of Thomas Rhett’s discography seems to take a country twist on classic pop-rock tunes that we are used to hearing, so the atmosphere matches perfectly for anyone to come have a good time. His electrifying voice and upbeat tempo made sure nobody was uninterested, and as long as he keeps that Jaguars hat on, he is more than welcome back for another round in Duval County.