Tampa Bay's New Country Hits

Why Country Music Was Drunk All Year in 2014

01/01/2015 at 1:56 | Rolling Stone

If you went to a concert in 2014 you may have noticed that country music is a drunken mess. The year was country’s Summer of Lush and nowhere was the stumbling state of the bro-dominated genre more on display than at Luke Bryan’s Pittsburgh stadium show on June 21. Sure, the bill boasted four of country’s biggest names — Dierks Bentley, Lee Brice, Cole Swindell and Bryan — but, in true tailgate-and-tan-line fashion, the day’s defining moment wasn’t on the stage but in the parking lot, where police made dozens of arrests, paramedics responded to more than 100 911 calls and revelers left behind thousands of pounds of garbage. After similar circumstances plagued a Kenny Chesney concert at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field in 2013, the city’s mayor, Bill Peduto, treated the Bryan incident like the latest outbreak in an ongoing epidemic. “The continued trashing of our city has to stop,” he said.

An undeniably hilarious local TV news clip that was brilliantly remixed with WWE commentary captures one drunk concertgoer walking sideways, losing his balance and falling to the ground, landing on his back. Seconds later, looking like a dazed prizefighter after a knockout punch, the man tries getting back on his feet, only to lose his balance again, face-planting into the unforgiving concrete. Not surprisingly, the clip went viral.

Inside the stadium, the soundtrack to this battle royal of debauchery was almost as intoxicating, thanks in part to the fact that Swindell’s set list featured painfully appropriate numbers like “Brought to You by Beer” and “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey,” while Brice provided such art-imitates-life-imitates-art selections as “Drinking Class,” “Parking Lot Party” and, of course, “Beer.” Bentley brought the house down with his summer hit “Drunk on a Plane,” and Bryan — a singer who, in 2014, stumbled and tumbled off stages so many times it’s hard to believe he’d pass a field sobriety test even when not intoxicated — played the woozy one-two punch of “Drink a Beer” into “Drunk on You” during his headlining set

As if “Drunk on a Plane” wasn’t already enough of an anthem for embarrassed alcoholics, a couple hundred miles across the Keystone State, at a Bentley show in Hershey in November, another seemingly intoxicated concertgoer got a spectacularly mortifying 15 minutes of fame. During a performance of the song, the singer plucked a couple girls from the crowd to dance, take selfies onstage and, for one, upchuck in front of the entire arena.

But spring-break-rivaling revelry wasn’t just the rule of the day in stadiums and arenas — booze tunes also drowned the country airwaves as well. Of Billboard’s Top 100 Hot Country Songs of 2014, a whopping 68 featured references to drinking (69 if you consider Bryan trying to pour a little sugar into some poor girl’s Dixie cup an alcohol reference). And at least a dozen of those beer-dripping, rum-drenched, whiskey-soaked hits had liquor references in their titles. Devise a drinking game with alcohol-themed songs on country radio this past year — like Brothers Osborne’s “Rum,” Frankie Ballard’s “Sunshine and Whiskey” and Tyler Farr’s “Whiskey in My Water” — and you might die while playing.

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