Country duo Dan and Shay perform at State Farm Center


Austin Yattoni

Country music duo Dan and Shay open for Chris Young on the Losing Sleep World Tour at State Farm Center on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.

By Courtney Stone, Staff writer

On Saturday, renowned country duo Dan + Shay took the State Farm Center by storm as special guests for Chris Young’s Losing Sleep 2018 world tour.

As people began filing into the arena at 6:30 p.m., the large crowd of all ages was ready to rock out in their flannels and flared jeans. Fans could be spotted sipping on cold beers as the anticipation built to hear the country hits ahead.

The Australian country music singer Morgan Evans opened the show, building up to his Top 10 country radio hit, “Kiss Somebody,” as a strong crowd warmer.

Once his set finished, Dee Jay Silver kept the crowd pumped with a hybrid mix of country and pop music while the stage crew set the stage for the guest-starring duo. Before exiting the stage, Silver asked the crowd if they were ready for the country-singing pair to which they responded with cheers echoing around the dome.

Finally, with a booming bass and bright flash of lights, Dan + Shay ran onto the stage, front and center with Dan picking up his guitar and Shay beginning to belt the first song, “19 You + Me.”

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Dan decided to show a little school spirit for the University, rocking out in a bright orange Illinois t-shirt with blue skinny jeans and brown boots. Shay sported a classic denim-on-denim look with his light blue jean jacket over his black t-shirt and jeans.

The male country twosome praised their female audience before singing their next song.

“I’m lookin’ around and seeing a lot of ladies. Ladies, how you doin’?” Shay said. “Help me out with this one,” he smiled before singing the crowd favorite “Nothin’ Like You.”

Dan + Shay played songs ranging from their 2013 hits to their country chart-toppers of 2018, constantly engaging the audience with short comments and questions between songs. The duo made sure their fans were having as much fun as they were with smiles stretched across their faces the whole performance.  

Having hearts for country music, they showed their true gratitude to the audience for sharing their love for the genre.

“Thank you so much for loving country and keeping the radio on when me and Shay come on and keep the music alive,” Dan said.

He led perfectly into their song “From The Ground Up,” about building a strong, loving relationship.

Austin Yattoni
Country music singer Dan Smyers from duo Dan + Shay opens for Chris Young on the Losing Sleep World Tour at State Farm Center on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.

They also made sure to document the concert on their own social media platforms after cheers from the crowd slowly came to a hush. With the idea in his mind, Dan took out his phone and asked if he could share this awesome moment with his fans.

“Oh my goodness, I love you guys so much. I wanna capture this for my Facebook, Instagram (and) Snapchat,” Dan said. “When I yell Champaign I wanna see each and every one of you go buck wild.”

In response, the crowd was on their feet screaming at the top of their lungs when the word was uttered, with the large screens on either sides of the stage displaying lively, excited faces from all around the audience.

Once they had their social media fix, the enthusiastic pair got back to the music. They surprised fans by performing covers of other musicians’ music as well. First, they sang a Rascal Flatts cover of “I Like the Sound of That” with Shay belting out the chorus and adding long vocals which made the crowd go wild. Then, they moved on to pop music for a brief moment with the cover of a Justin Timberlake song.

“Y’all ready to turn this song to an eleven?” Shay yelled right before singing “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake.

Returning to their own music, Dan + Shay kept the audience alive but slowed down the tempo. Telling the crowd to have their phone flashlights at the ready, Dan had everyone hold up their phones right when the music began.

As the first chords of their song “Speechless” were strummed across the guitar, the arena lit up all around with fans holding their lights up for the singers and little cheers of emotion escaping from their lips at the song choice.

The duo also made sure to give credit to their band members, giving drummer, pianist and two guitarists shoutouts and brief five-second solos as they gave them their appreciation.

Dan + Shay rounded out their set by finishing with their No. 1 chart-topping song “Tequila.”

“Thank you for singing all the words back to us,” Shay said. “Coincidentally for this next song we’re gonna be drinking all night.”

The song began with just Dan playing his guitar and Shay singing the lyrics, having the audience sing every other line of the first verse. Once the chorus came, they sang with the audience one last time, the whole band coming in and giving it their all.

Right before leaving the stage, Dan + Shay thanked the crowd, smiles glowing under the stage lights, waving goodbye and throwing a single t-shirt into the front row.

“This is such an honor to be performing with Morgan Evans and Chris Young,” Shay said. “Thank you guys for letting us live out our dream every day.”

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