For Brantley Gilbert, the ones who like him really like him! It’s not just a single – although “The Ones That Like Me” is currently climbing the Country Radio charts – it’s a way of life for the kicked back South Georgia songwriter. He rocked the faces off 17,696 members of the BG Nation Friday night at Charlotte, NC’s PNC Music Pavilion, then rolled into Alpharetta, GA to play to a near capacity 11,721 at the Verizon Amphitheatre, a feat accomplished without being part of this summer’s Megaticket bundle at the nation’s outdoor venues.
“We come to throw down, and the BG Nation knows how to do that,” says the high intensity outlier. “I love being outside in the summer – and the energy the fans bring. It’s not just about the party, it’s about the music, and it’s awesome when we have crowds like this weekend.”
Having sold out his winter The Devil Don’t Sleep Arena Tour, Gilbert’s The Ones Who Like Me summer tour is doing equally strong business. For the fans, who helped make Just As I Am and Halfway To Heaven back-to-back certified platinum albums, it’s the music that matters.
“I say every album is a chapter of my life,” Gilbert explains. “Even more than the hits, it’s a story of who I am, the things that happen and how it shapes my life. It’s real, even when it’s simple – and I think everyone in the BG Nation feels it and lives their life the same way. So these aren’t just my songs, they’re the songs of all of our lives.”
There seems to be a lot of living going on inside the songs of the guy who debuted at #1 for physical sales with The Devil Don’t Sleep. When Rolling Stone assessed the Best of Country and Americana, the soul-scraping album – written completely by Gilbert – was on the list alongside Willie Nelson, Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Allison Krauss, Nikki Lane and tour opener Luke Combs.
Deeming it “the soundtrack to Friday night in small towns everywhere,” critic Jon Freeman says, “Where the majority of bro-country’s standard bearers switched up their approaches upon Chris Stapleton’s coronation as country’s new king – softening their sound with boy band-flavored pop or moving away from the party vibe to more adult songwriting – Gilbert stuck to his guns and released his best album yet with The Devil Don’t Sleep.”
Entertainment Weekly concurs, writing, “With swaggering guitars, catchy hooks, and a DGAF attitude, Devil promises to keep the ‘One Hell of an Amen’ singer at the top of the country charts.” NPR considered, “the tough guy tentatively wading into introspective territory…Gilbert is acutely aware of what keeps his audience feeling connected to him — that his fans, branded the BG Nation, identify with his bellicose tone, his defiant posture, the contempt he aims at any hint of condescension, the slight suggestion of softness behind the sneer.”
“These songs are life. It’s pretty simple stuff,” offers the man who’s also written the CMA Song of the Year nominee “Dirt Road Anthem” and “My Kind of Party” for Jason Aldean. “I want to hit people where they live, because it’s where I live. It’s what makes this whole thing work: real music about real life for the people living it.”
Gilbert plays the Beach at Atlantic City Friday and the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion on Saturday.