Are Kenny Chesney’s concerts more arresting than his music?
They are certainly a lot more rowdy than his largely innocuous style of country-pop, which at times is so mellow he makes Jimmy Buffett sound like a speed-metal fiend by comparison. Well, almost.
To be fair to Chesney - who performs his first San Diego show since 2008 tonight at Sleep Train Amphitheatre - it’s his concert audiences who tend to be rowdy, not his soft-rock-tinged songs or the laid-back, “aw shucks” lifestyle he extolls.
Kenny Chesney, with Old Dominion
When: 7:30 Thursday
Where: Sleep Train Amphitheatre, 2050 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista
Phone: (800) 745-3000
A look at some newspaper and website headlines from his previous tours tells part of the story about Chesney’s fans, who refer to themselves as No Shoes Nation.
76 Arrested at Chesney Concert, 2 Killed in Car Accident (July 28, 2008, Boston)
73 Arrested, 150 Injured At Kenny Chesney Concert (June 23, 2013, Pittsburgh)
Cops Overwhelmed by Drunks; Kenny Chesney Sparks White Riot At Lambeau (June 22, 2015, Green Bay)
37 People Taken to Hospitals, 7 Arrests Made During Kenny Chesney Concert - EMS handled 99 requests for assistance (July 3, 2016, Pittsburgh)
The good news is the 37 arrests at Chesney’s Heinz Field concert in Pittsburgh last month were 36 fewer than at his 2013 concert at the same stadium. And only 44 tons of trash was left behind, down from 48 tons at his 2013 Pittsburgh show. City officials credit those declines to better planning, not better behavior.
Meanwhile, fans at Chesney’s 2015 concert at Lambeau Field set a record, with between 250 and 300 ejected, according to Green Bay police. By comparison, the total number of ejections - about 200 - at all eight Green Bay Packers home games at Lambeau last season was fewer than the number at Chesney’s concert.
Of course, it would be inaccurate to say his audiences only get liquored up when he breaks into a cover of AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie,” The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” or the Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” (a song that gives a shout-out to smoking pot, not getting soused on booze).
Never mind that Chesney’s albums include such audience favorites as “When I See This Bar,” “You and Tequila,” “Drink It Up,” “Beer in Mexico,” “Tequila Loves Me,” “Keg in the Closet” and “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem” (the title track of the 2002 album that elevated him to stadium-concert-headliner status).
Or that Chesney owns the 3-year-old company Blue Chair Rum, named after his 2004 song “Old Blue Chair,” a lilting, lightly tropical-flavored ballad Buffett could claim as his own. (Chesney is also not the only country star with his own line of intoxicants - Toby Keith has a tequila company, and Florida Georgia Line will debut a whiskey line soon, while Willie Nelson’s pot line is pending.)
Song titles aside, what is it about Chesney’s often mellow music that inspires such alcohol-fueled mayhem at his concerts - as opposed to, say, napping?
Whatever the answer, let’s hope his “Spread the Love” tour show here is a less fluid affair.