Those enduring 40-mph wind gusts weren’t the only ones blown away Friday night.
Country music star Chase Rice and his boisterous band rocked out Friday at Five Flags Center. About 1,900 people attended, according to H.R. Cook, the facility’s general manager.
Rice, an up-and-coming 31-year-old singer, belted out hits like “I Like Drinking, ‘Cause It’s Fun” and covers of “Free Fallin’” and “Livin’ On a Prayer,” to fans who stood and stomped throughout the 16-song, 80-minute show.
It was a blast from the past for the struggling venue that used to host huge concert crowds in the 1980s and early 1990s.
“Usually you have to go to Mystique or the (Diamond Jo) casino to see big concerts,” said Scott Goins, 40, who was there with his wife, Jadi, and another couple from Dubuque. “This is especially good for the Five Flags.”
Cook said he was pleased with the turnout. However, he noted a similar up-and-coming country act drew a bigger crowd in early 2014.
“The Band Perry was a little further along in their career than Chase Rice is,” Cook said. “But we were trending ahead (in ticket sales) of other Rice concerts in other cities, which is a positive to me to know that our market is viable to bring other, similar acts in here.
“If they were hot in the ’80s and ’90s and they played here, people would like to see them come back,” Cook said. “I think we’re starting to see that happy medium.”
Friday’s event opened with Lacy Cavalier and then Ryan Hurd.
Regan Hackett, 21, of Waukon, said she enjoyed the show.
“We’re big country fans. We live on farms,” said Hackett, who was joined by boyfriend Laen Folsom. “I like that (Rice) has more than just country songs. He has some newer ones and country rock.”
Erin Shoop, of Ryan, Iowa, was there with her two children, Kylee, 10, and Kasen, 7. They stood in line to meet Hurd after his set.
“I love to go to all types of concerts,” she said. “This is (Kasen’s) first concert. We went to Kip Moore last night in Cedar Rapids.”
Louisiana native Cavalier, 19, performed for about 25 minutes, warming up the crowd with a mixture of country and pop. Hurd sang some of his own songs as well as those he’s written for others.
Notable among Hurd-penned tunes is “Lonely Tonight,” which became one of country music superstar Blake Shelton’s top singles.
At one point, Hurd raised a plastic cup of beer and yelled, “Anybody drinkin’ tonight?” Following a loud cheer, he said, “Thanks for coming.”
Rice, on his Everybody We Know Does Tour, took the stage around 9, first in a dramatic silhouette behind a white curtain then with a burst of light and sound.
Opening with “50 Shades of Crazy,” the five-member band included one guitarist with a Mohawk and another with long black locks.
By the fourth song — “I Like Drinking, ‘Cause It’s Fun” — the crowd was wound up enough to participate by shouting “’cause it’s fun” at the opportune times.
Shortly into a solo, acoustic version of “Jack Daniel’s & Jesus,” Rice suddenly stopped and said, “Can we get someone down here?” In front, near the stage, a young woman had passed out. She eventually walked off with some assistance.
Cavalier and Hurd made cameos during a couple of songs, and each band member did a short solo of a popular song when being introduced. The band also slowed things down a bit with “Gonna Wanna Tonight,” which is No. 48 on Billboard’s Top 100 Country songs.
A version of Rice’s popular hit, “Ready Set Roll,” concluded things with a joint guitar solo that lasted at least seven minutes.