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Concert Review: Parker McCollum

On March 1, I attended the Parker McCollum concert at the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC, and it was… an experience. 

McCollum announced his “Burn It Down” tour in October 2023, and has been making his way through the country since its start in January.  I had seen McCollum perform in November 2023 as an opener for Morgan Wallen’s, “One Night at a Time” tour and he was awesome. He’s a really great performer who writes amazing songs, so I was really excited to see his performance in Columbia. 

The performance itself was breathtaking. McCollum did exactly everything right and his stage presence left me in awe. From his witty remarks throughout songs, his crowd interaction, and his pure talent, this concert exceeded my expectations. 

The first opener of the show was Vincent Mason, a small country artist based in Nashville. I hadn’t heard the name before, but since the show his songs have been on my rotation. He’s been putting out singles since 2022, so he is relatively new to the scene, which was reflected in his performance. His song choice and vocals were amazing, singing three original songs and one cover of “American Kids” by Kenny Chesney. His performance was pretty much what you would have expected from a hopeful up-and-coming artist, but I see his potential and totally understand the choice to include him in McCollum’s show. 

The second opener, Corey Smith, was not at all what I had expected. He was great, but he didn’t really flow well with the show or the opener before. This new age, folk, country musician has been putting music out for over 20 years and is a seasoned performer, but this particular performance didn’t add to the energy created from the prior artist. As much as it didn’t add to the concert, however, it definitely did not subtract. He’s a great artist with some awesome songs, I just don’t think that his demographic is the same as the people in a college town going to a Parker McCollum concert.

After both openers, there was a brief intermission before McCollum began his set. He started his performance with his song, “To Be Loved By You” followed by “Wait Outside” and “Meet You in the Middle” which was a great way to get the crowd excited for the rest of his show. Although these songs aren’t necessarily his most popular, they are great songs that built on each other to create a lot of energy. McCollum is an amazing performer who clearly loves what he does. He had great crowd interaction and was very appreciative to the entire audience for being at his show. His band even got in on the fun, throwing guitar picks out to the audience, waving, and complimenting people on their outfits. 

One thing I found interesting was the amount of crowd engagement that actually took place during this performance. I’ve been to a ton of concerts and this one was definitely the most interactive concert I’ve ever been to. McCollum took audience members' phones for selfies, signed hats and other clothing items the crowd threw on stage, and even gave out a signed UofSC baseball jersey. For as large of a venue it was, I am blown away by how small and intimate he made it feel. 

During his performance “lull” he played (or at least attempted to play) four or five of his arguably saddest songs. During these moments he sang “Rest of My Life” on the acoustic guitar while also playing the harmonica. It was a really beautiful performance that showcased his talents as a musician, singer and songwriter. 

Unfortunately, the performance lull came to an abrupt stop during the song “Hell of a Year” due to distractions in the crowd. Honestly, the crowd was a huge distraction throughout the entire show and the rowdiness was not what I had expected for a country artist whose specialty is sad, slow songs. It got so bad that McCollum stopped the show four times to get security and medics into the pit. I appreciate his attentiveness to the crowd and U'm glad things didn't go unnoticed, but it was frustrating that he was unable to continue to perform one of his most popular songs. 

To bring the energy back up for the end of the show, he performed his most popular song, “Handle On You,” which was probably the funnest performance of the night. The ending was really sentimental as he continued to express gratitude and really take in the crowd. By the end of the concert, you could tell that he really loves performing. The show ended with the song “Hurricane” which was the perfect ending to an awesome concert. 

This concert was super fun and exceeded my expectations for a country performance. Unfortunately, the distractions throughout the crowd almost ruined the night for me. I witnessed multiple fights, lots of shoving, and people being extremely disrespectful the entire time. This was an experience that I don’t often have at concerts, and especially not at country music concerts. It was frustrating to experience this as a self-proclaimed concert connoisseur because music is supposed to bring people together and generate community, and this crowd did the exact opposite. This criticism, of course, has nothing to do with Parker McCollum or anyone associated with him and mainly falls on the responsibility of the venue and security team. 

Overall, McCollum’s execution was amazing, combining the elements of music, singing and songwriting, to create a wonderful performance. I was pleasantly surprised by the concert and hope to see him perform again soon.

To find out more about Parker McCollum and his "Burn It Down" tour,, check him out at his website here

Amelia Feist

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