Dustin Lynch had performed for more than an hour when he invited a female fan onstage to help with some karaoke.
Normally such a move would kill any momentum. But it didn’t happen Friday night at House of Blues – the first of three sold out concerts at the Downtown Disney venue.
As the gal spun a wheel of artist suggestions, the segment really excited the crowd. Especially when, as luck would have it, the first result was Orange County’s own Lit.
Then Lynch and his tight four-piece band (alongside openers Chris Lane and Tyler Rich) did spirited bits of the alt-rockers’ “My Own Worst Enemy,” Kenny Chesney’s “When the Sun Goes Down” and the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right (To Party).” They grabbed red Solo cups and did an alcohol shot together too.
A blazing “To the Sky” – the first of nine selections from Lynch’s solid 2014 sophomore effort “Where It’s At” – kicked off the 90-minute set. The album has spawned a pair of Billboard country airplay chart toppers and a top 30 single.
The 30-year-old Tennessee native previously toured with Keith Urban, helped make Stagecoach ’14 memorable, headlined the Shipkicker Fest in Long Beach and spent much of last year on the road with Luke Bryan. Soon, he’ll rejoin that tour and return to Stagecoach on May 1.
In Anaheim, the ladies shrieked loudly and often at the hunky vocalist – especially during “Halo,” a rocking “After Party” and current hit “Mind Reader.”
Displaying his 1990s country music influences, Lynch’s “flashback Friday time” comprised a fun medley of Joe Diffie, Diamond Rio and Brooks & Dunn tunes.
Elsewhere, concert highlights included the old school country innuendo of “She Cranks My Tractor,” “Wild in Your Smile” (containing a quick nod to Ozzy Osbourne) and affecting ballad “Hurricane” (expertly merging into Garth Brooks’ haunting “The Thunder Rolls,” complete with rain effects).
“This allowed me to travel to California for the first time and I’ll never forget it,” said Lynch about initial platinum-selling hit “Cowboys and Angels.” Co-writer Tim Nichols was watching. So with Lynch’s urging, the crowd sang the end of the riveting ballad for him. The band followed with a fresh loping reggae groove on the singer’s next biggest hit, “Where It’s At,” and encored with another No. 1 song, the raucous “Hell of a Night.” The latter title definitely summed up Lynch’s O.C. show.
Earlier in the evening, Lane turned in a mighty impressive 45-minute set revolving around his new “Fix” EP. It was produced by Joey Moi, who has also produced Lane’s former tour mates Florida Georgia Line.
Starting with minor 2014 hit “Broken Windshield View,” the lanky singer was a total live wire and rarely stood still onstage. Backed by a hard rocking band that could easily be mistaken for metal musicians, Lane did two left-field, yet enthusiastic medleys. The first encompassed Journey, KISS, Bruno Mars and The Outfield (!); the other tackled Backstreet Boys, The Weeknd and NSYNC with verve.
Lane easily nailed the rapid-fire pop culture lyrical references (Darth Vader, Michael Jackson) on the percolating “Cool.”
Good time party tune “Saturday Night” went down well, as did the breezy “Her Own Kind of Beautiful.” Lane’s falsetto and soulful side came across equally strong during “For Her” and current top 30 charter “Fix.”
The Sacramento raised (and onetime Huntington Beach resident) Rich did an appealing solo acoustic half hour performance. Highlights included the emotional ballad “Radio,” a fine take on George Strait’s “Check Yes or No” and “California Grown.”