Kip Moore has a few things on his mind, and most of them have to do with having a good time, which is exactly what he delivered at the Uptown Theater on Saturday night.
The country singer-songwriter spent two hours whipping a sold-out crowd of about 2,300 into a sustained frenzy, serenading them with songs about drinking and weekend debauchery, getting reckless, having sex, pursuing sex and, occasionally, surviving heartache.
Like that of many of his contemporaries, Moore’s music is significantly more rock than country; many of his anthems come off as a Southern-fried version of Bruce Springsteen, especially when they address small-town themes and boy-girl politics.
He and his four-piece band opened with “Wild Ones,” a standard modern-country-rock anthem with lyrics that cut directly to the chase: “Everybody raise your glass / Pick it up and throw it back / Grab a hold of your honey / And everybody get a little lovin’.”
Then came “Crazy One More Time,” another beefy rock song that opens with the singer looking through a girl’s window: “I heard the word you’re back in town / I’ve got some cheap cigarettes, your favorite beer.” He’s got one thing in mind, but despite the “engine burning through my jeans,” she falls asleep, and he moves on because he “can’t see you as nothing but mine.”
And so it went through a litany of songs with titles that strongly imply the narratives: “Reckless (Still Growin’ Up),” “Beer Money,” “Come and Get It,” “Backseat” and “What Ya Got On Tonight.”
Moore is a native Georgian, and he sings and talks in a thick Southern drawl that at times breaches the alto range. (At times, his singing voice resembles Ryan Bingham’s.) He was dressed in standard bro-country fashion: jeans, a ball cap turned backwards and a tank top that showed off his buffed physique.
He is a kinetic live performer, whether bouncing around and hopping on the monitors holding only a microphone or playing guitar. True to the evening’s theme, he sipped from a red plastic cup and swigged from a whiskey bottle throughout the show.
The set list included a cover of Jimmy Eat World’s pop anthem “The Middle” that generated a surprisingly loud and widespread singalong. It also included a short medley of songs with Jon Pardi, one of the openers. Moore and Pardi each sang solo/acoustic bits of songs that they said influenced them: George Strait’s “Troubadour”; David Lee Murphy’s “Dust on the Bottle”; Randy Travis’ “Deeper Than the Holler”; and Mel McDaniel’s “Louisiana Saturday Night.”
Other highlights: At the end of “Hey Pretty Girl,” Moore fused in a few bars of the Temptations’ “My Girl,” letting the crowd finish the song, loudly. He drew the show to a close with his best-known material: “’Bout a Truck,” which aroused the biggest sing-along of the night; the frothy “Magic,” a jig of a song that was embellished with the spray of lights from a spinning disco ball; and a solo/acoustic version of “Dirt Road.”
He and the band closed with a song that spun away from the party-anthem theme: “Faith When I Fall,” in which the singer asks for support from someone who matters: “Give me strength when I’m standing / And faith when I fall.” He added a twist, fusing it with a few measures of Tom Petty’s melancholic “Free Fallin’,” a song about a guy who shows no remorse for breaking a girl’s heart. The crowd, however, sang along raucously and spiritedly, as if it were another party anthem and another reason to crack another beer.
Jon Pardi: Pardi is from Dixon, Calif., not far from Sacramento, but his music is more country – the red dirt/Oklahoma flavor – than Moore’s. The liberal use of pedal steel guitar helped. Much of the big crowd was in place for his 40-minute set, which included “California Sunrise,” “Night Shift,” “Cowboy Hat,” “Heartache on the Dancefloor,” “Paycheck” and “Dirt on My Boots.” Pardi is a slick entertainer and charming frontman who seems likely to be headlining shows like this eventually.
Wild Ones; Crazy One More Time; Reckless (Still Growin’ Up); Beer Money; The Middle; Come and Get It; Backseat; Young Love; That’s Alright With Me; What Ya Got On Tonight; Running For You; That Was Us; Complicated; Troubadour; Dust on the Bottle; Deeper Than the Holler; Louisiana Saturday Night; Heart’s Desire; Hey Pretty Girl/My Girl; Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck; Magic; Dirt Road; Faith When I Fall/Free Fallin’.