On recordings, country artist Chris Young’s rich baritone voice is filled with gruff intensity when he asks the Lord to make him a better man, and he becomes a seriously romantic crooner when he sees his lady friend’s black dress hit the floor. In concert, however, he comes off as your goofy older brother, and the one you want to tell to stop dancing, if only so he doesn’t hurt himself.
But what he lacked in seriousness the 26-year-old singer made up for in fun-loving energy Wednesday night at the Fillmore Silver Spring, constantly sporting a big smile, grooving around on stage, cheerfully strumming a guitar and pausing to repeatedly thank the audience for their support.
“I’ll probably say ‘thank you’ way more times than you want to hear tonight, but I don’t even care,” said Young, a Murfreesboro, Tenn., native who broke into the music industry five years ago as the winner of the “Nashville Star” singing competition on USA Network. “Thank you so much for making the dreams I had as a little kid come true.”
Young sang most tenderly while performing his No. 1 singles — “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song),” “The Man I Want to Be” and the heartbreakingly earnest break-up ballad “Tomorrow.” He also sang the life-lessons tune “Voices,” which has the distinction of being released last year, for a second time, and shooting up to No. 1, the first country song in 25 years to do so.
Strumming through requisite drinking jams “Save Water, Drink Beer” and “Who’s Gonna Take Me Home” along with sweeter “You,” “Lost” and nostalgic “Neon,” Young talked to the crowd — a lot. It seemed that after spending so much time this year as the opener for bigger acts (Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton), he was excited to just have some time to chat. He told stories, including one about going to dinner with Shelton and getting stuck with the tab. And in the night’s most popular anecdote, he recognized a woman near the stage and said he had met her earlier in a meet-and-greet, and she had told him that he “could butter her cornbread anytime.”
The crowd, which filled the two-month-old venue about three-quarters full and was dotted with cowboy hats, let out a huge roar of approval when Young gave a shout-out to the military and sang “The Dashboard,” about a guy who keeps his brother’s car in good shape while bro is serving overseas. One man in the audience vigorously waved an American flag he had brought for the occasion.
Though “thank you” did indeed pepper Young’s 90-minute set, it was somewhat refreshing: Nashville already has the Rebels, the Party Boys, the Brooding Artists, the Ladies’ Men. Maybe what it needs is more Nice Guys. The ones who may need dance lessons but have a genuine love of having a great time singing their own music, and are not afraid to show it.