Brentaro Yamane | Multimedia Editor
Three years ago, Morgan Wallen saw himself at PPG Paints Arena opening up for Luke Combs during his “Beer Never Broke My Heart Tour.”
On Aug. 30 and 31, Wallen returned to Pittsburgh for his own tour, “One Night At A Time” and is now considered by many as the face of country music.
Wallen was originally scheduled to perform at PNC Park back in June, but the show had to be delayed due to doctor-recommended vocal rest. While many Wallen fans were disappointed by the delay, people were tailgating outside the venue when he finally arrived.
“The atmosphere outside of the concert was as exciting as it was inside. Everyone was really excited to be there, and it was a lot of fun,” said Corbin Miller, a fifth-year student in Duquesne’s physician assistant program. “I went to the concert with my girlfriend because I’m a huge Wallen fan and country music fan myself.”
While country music continues to evolve, Wallen has created a lasting impact as he continues to grow the culture of country music.
“I wanted to go to the concert because I’ve been really into country music lately and my friend Kylie [Wagstaff] and I wanted to celebrate her birthday there,” said ‘23 Duquesne alumna Ava Djakovich. “I was most looking forward to the one opener, Bailey Zimmerman, and hearing my favorite Morgan Wallen songs live, [like] ‘Thinkin’ Bout Me,’ ‘Wasted on You’ and ‘Cowgirls.’”
After several openers, including Parker McCollum, Zimmerman and Ernest, Wallen finally showed up on stage. Pyrotechnics lent to the country star’s bold entrance as the crowd buzzed with anticipation and excitement.
“My favorite part of the concert was when he came out on stage, and fireworks shot off. It set the tone for his entire set list,” said long-time fan, Austin Wells. “I wish he would have played ‘Mad Made a Bar’…That is definitely one of my favorites from him.”
The set list consisted of more than 20 songs, including well-known hits “Chasing You,” “Wasted on You,” “You Proof” and “Last Night.” Wallen proved himself to be a true multi-instrumentalist with “Sand in My Boots,” which he played on the piano. Many of his other songs he accompanied with guitar.
During the encore of Wallen’s Thursday night show, one of his bandmates waved a Cincinnati Bengals flag, causing the Steel City audience to boo. To remedy the bit, Pittsburgh native and rapper, Wiz Khalifa, arrived on stage to perform “Black and Yellow.”
Having just released his newest single, “Oakland Originals,” Khalifa proved to be a popular presence on-stage alongside Wallen.
“Wiz performing was awesome, especially at a concert where you are not expecting him to come out. The stadium erupted, and everyone loved his performance,” Miller said.
The lighting effects, sound quality and media transitions lent themselves to viewer experience, and Wallen created unique engagement opportunities as he reached into the audience to film video selfies on fan devices. Later, his performance of “Cover Me Up” was met with a sea of phone lights swaying back and forth.
Prior to his appearance at PNC Park, Wallen performed previously in Western Pennsylvania two summers ago at The Pavilion at Star Lake, which is 40 minutes west from the city of Pittsburgh. As he continues to expand his repertoire to larger venues, he proves his popularity and stardom among newer generations of country music fans.
“Most country songs paint a vivid picture in your head making it more enjoyable,” Wells said. “It’s very inspirational for me [to relate] to country music. It makes me feel like whatever you are going through, you are not alone.”