Craig Campbell and Brantley Gilbert come to Radford

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Brantley Gilbert rocks the stage at Preston Auditorium

Brittany LaTempa

The Beehive

Brantley Gilbert is a small-town southern man from Georgia who started playing guitar in third grade. He would play praise and worship songs and then began writing his own songs at the age of 13. Today his songs are recognized not only by the southern crowd, but also people from the north even know his songs by heart.

In USA Today, Gilbert said, “We got a hell of a response from (the crowd). Being that far away from home and getting that kind of response put it over the top.”

But I don’t think Brantley Gilbert realized how big of a fan base he had at Radford University. Within two weeks the concert was sold out. People gathered outside of Preston Hall before the doors opened in a line that reached almost to Heth Hall. Camouflage hats, cowboy boots, and plaid shirts filled up the Bondurant Auditorium within 30 minutes. Craig Campbell opened the concert and the crowd roared with cheering when he performed “Family Man” and “Fish,” two of his well-known singles.

Soon after Campbell finished, some members of the crowd ran up front to prepare for Brantley Gilbert. The banner with Gilbert’s name began lowering behind him as they set up and the crowd started to cheer. Waiting patiently, the crowd stood and watched the crewmembers change the stage for the next performer.

The lights dimmed and the crowd started to scream and cheer. The band came out and started to play a few notes when Brantley Gilbert came out on stage. Girls started to scream and guys started to holler as Gilbert walked out with his guitar to play the first song.

He played some familiar songs and some that weren’t as well known as others, but the crowd cheered after each song that he played. With a smile on his face, Brantley Gilbert would hold the microphone out into the crowd to hear the crowd sing his songs. He looked to his band mate with a grin from ear to ear. He didn’t realize how many fans he really had.

As he exited the stage, the crowd started to chant, “Brantley, Brantley, Brantley!” After a moment of chanting, the band walked back out on the stage to perform two more songs. One of the songs was Gilbert’s popular hit “G.R.I.T.S. (Girls Raised In The South)” and every girl started singing along instantly.

He walked off the stage for a few seconds and came back with a leather jacket on. His manager or crewmember came out and attempted to pick Gilbert up and carry him off the stage. He probably thought they would never leave if he came out again.

Once the concert was over the crowd ran outside to his bus and stood anxiously waiting to see the country music star one last time. As Gilbert walked to his bus, the crowd started to yell, “We love you Brantley!” and attempted to get autographs. The manager hid Brantley from the crowd but Gilbert made sure to wave as he got on the bus to leave for the next stop.