Brantley Gilbert is firing up the summer of 2017 with a vengeance. Coming off a weekend of playing to 30,000 in Charlotte and Alpharetta, Georgia, the CMA Song of the Year nominee brought 15,000 to Atlantic City’s BeachFest, the second in a series of concerts that also included Pink, then sold out Gilford, NH’s Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion for the second time on Saturday.
“We love taking it outside,” says the back-to-back platinum certified songwriter. Playing out on that beach was pretty awesome, and getting back up to New Hampshire was wilder than last year! The crowds are coming ready, and that just pushes me and the guys that much further. You know, for me as a writer, the songs are only done when you hear’em coming back to you from the fans; that’s where it gets really real.”
As intense as this weekend’s shows were, it’s all a preface for the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 this Sunday. After headlining the iconic Frontier Days Festival in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Gilbert heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he will perform one song at the legendary NASCAR race, now in its 24th year.
“You don’t ever think about things like your name on a race like this,” Gilbert offers. “But it’s pretty cool. You know, to be part of something that means so much to a lot of people is powerful. It’s an honor. It’s also, for us, a teaser for when we play the Klipsch Center in a few weeks – and can really hit it hard.”
Having sold out his winter The Devil Don’t Sleep Arena Tour, Gilbert’s summer has been no less incendiary. Though not a part of Live Nation’s annual MEGATicket, the man NPR offered, “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” is doing unprecedented business without being included in the amphitheater promotion.
“A lot more people live like I do than the media realizes,” Gilbert says with a laugh. “Because I say every album is a chapter of my life. More than even the hits, these songs are what’s happened to me, what I’ve learned and how I feel. I think everyone in the BG Nation shares those same things, so these songs are true for all of us.”
With The Devil Don’t Sleep being named one of Rolling Stone’s Best of Country and Americana So Far — alongside Willie Nelson, Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Allison Krauss, Nikki Lane and tour opener Luke Combs, it suggests Gilbert’s high impact introspection reflects the internal lives of so many working Americans, who are all trying to figure out how to live free, make ends meet and still love life in all its permutations.
Rolling Stone Country staffer Jon Freeman called Devil, “the soundtrack to Friday night in small towns everywhere.” Entertainment Weekly concurs, opining, “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.”
Gilbert returns to Indianapolis for a full show August 5 at the Klipsch Center. The Brantley Gilbert Brickyard 400 will be broadcast on NBC. Check local listings.