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Florida Georgia Line tap into their varied roots in sold-out Sprint Center show

Florida Georgia Line — Brian Kelley (left) and Tyler Hubbard — played to an enthusiastic audience at the sold-out Sprint Center on Saturday.
Florida Georgia Line — Brian Kelley (left) and Tyler Hubbard — played to an enthusiastic audience at the sold-out Sprint Center on Saturday. Special to The Star

Moments before the headliners took the stage at the Sprint Center on Saturday night, the public address system entertained the sold-out crowd with a long passage from “My House,” a hit for the rapper Flo Rida.

The song played until the country duo Florida Georgia Line, comprising singers and songwriters Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, entered the arena from the rafters, each standing on a platform suspended far above the stage beneath them.

As they descended, the two opened their 90-minute set with a song that dovetailed seamlessly with the Flo Rida hit: the rap-meets-country anthem “This Is How We Roll,” a blast of vapid braggadocio that proclaims from the start, “This mix tape’s got a little Hank, little Drake,” then declares: “We hanging out, singing out everything on the radio.” Like most of their music, it featured a bright melody and lockstep harmonies, music styled for arena singalongs.

No matter the primitive lyrics, everything they performed Saturday night resonated with their audience, a choir of 15,000-plus fans, all of whom appeared to be deeply familiar with whatever song was issued from the pair and its four-piece band.

They followed “Roll” with “It’z Just What We Do,” another fusion of country/Southern rock and rap that extols the “backwoods, boondocks” lifestyle, one filled with tricked-up pickups that are primed for a run through a “Georgia clay mudhole.”

Call it what you want, this kind of music, which extols the country/rural lifestyle, family values, love, sex, romance, partying and heavy drinking, dominates the modern-country music charts, and FGL is evidence of both its dominance and endurance.

But there was a noticeable sway in their agenda. The two are touring on their new album, “Dig Your Roots,” and the title track, a straight-up country-soul ballad shorn of any hip-hop, preaches bedrock small-town virtues: “Fall in love, plant some seeds / Carve your name in the family tree / Raise your kids, love your wife / Put God first / Just to live your life.”

The divergent messages didn’t faze a crowd that was on board from the start, whether the point was to party hard on a Friday night (“Anything Goes”), party and pursue sex on a Saturday night (“Round Here”) or deeper pursuits, like submitting to and committing to the land you grew up on and the blue-eyed lady with its “mud on her jeans that she peeled off” who “makes you wanna build a 10-percent down, white-picket-fence house on this dirt.”

It all meshed seamlessly. During an interlude on the satellite stage at the back of the arena, the two paused to pay gratitude to their wives before singing “Holy,” a hymn about the resurrective and spiritual powers of love. That song swayed to a vibe that felt of another era, like ’70s soft rock/soul.

They followed that with some beach-party music, including “Sun Daze,” which included a litany of spring break jargon: flip-flops, Jack and Cokes, getting high and getting laid.

The presentation included plenty of visuals: videos and photographic footage (including images of Hubbard and Kelly when they were tots and 20-ish-somethings), plus flash pots and plumes of fog. The stage was equipped with a runway that split into three short prongs, which the duo and their guitar player made use of.

The encore showcased their embrace of a wide variety of music genres. It started with their own “Party People,” a knucklehead beer-fest anthem about getting “buck wild … David Lee Roth style.” Then came what they called a mixed-tape medley that hopped around from a Nelly cover (“Ride Wit Me”) to a Toby Keith song to a Papa Roach cover, a Backstreet Boys’ hit and two other songs, including House of Pain’s “Jump Around.”

They brought it all home with the closer, “Cruise,” the kind you take in a Chevy with a girl in a bikini while you’re drinking Southern Comfort and grooving to Marshall Tucker. It’s a pop song with a Top 40 chorus and light country accents, precisely what everyone in the place came for.

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

Set list

This Is How We Roll; It’z Just What We Do; Round Here; Anything Goes; Dig Your Roots; Confession; Stay; May We All; Dirt; Holy; Island; Three Little Birds/Sun Daze; Get Your Shine On. Encore: Party People; Medley: Ride Wit Me/Should’ve Been a Cowboy/The Last Resort/Everybody/This Is How We Do It/Jump Around; Cruise.

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