Brett Kissel is one of the biggest country acts in Canada, and this weekend I had the opportunity to see why in person. After catching the quick two hour flight from Nashville to Toronto, I spent the day exploring the big Toronto sights, including the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre, home of the Blue Jays.
The real adventure started on Saturday. I’ve seen Brett play a couple shows in Nashville at the Basement, a venue that holds maybe 100 people, but his crowds at the Danforth Music Hall blew that out of the water. After the first show sold out almost immediately, Kissel added a 3pm matinee. Adding shows has been a common theme on what is now Canada’s longest running country tour, after 4 nights in Calgary in Kissel’s home province of Alberta, demand was so high a 5th date had to be added. Both shows were also recorded to air on a television special across Canada and the UK.
As soon as the doors opened at 2pm, a crowd of all ages rushed in from out of the chilly Canadian weather to get as close to the stage as possible for the first act of the day, Dan Davidson. As the lights went down to start the show, Davidson had the crowd of over 700 fired up. The former Tupelo Honey front man played a short set including his two Canadian top 20 tracks, “Barn Burner” (19) and “Found” (16), before playing his newest single, “Let’s Go There”. Davidson plans to use crowd footage from the shows in the upcoming video for “Let’s Go There”.
By the time Kissel finally came on the crowd was one of the most energetic I’d seen for a Saturday afternoon. About midway through the over two hour set, Brett spotted a small child strumming a tiny guitar on his father’s shoulders. He pulled him on stage and told the story of how he got his first guitar at the age of 6. Once the little boy told the crowd he was 5, Brett grabbed one of his guitars from backstage, signed it, and gave it to the little boy.
After the first show let out, I told Brett’s manager how impressed with the crowd I was. He replied, “Just wait until the night show” with a smile on his face. He was right.
The flood of people from the first show was nothing compared to the rush at the start of the second. In just minutes a larger crowd than the whole first show was buzzing waiting for the show started. The sold out Danforth Music hall was crammed packed with over 1400 Canadian country fans. Dan Davidson’s set had new life as the crowd sang along to every word, beers held high. At one point during the show, after Kissel played “Canadian Kid”, an ode to his rural Albertan upbringing, the crowd burst into a power rendition of “Oh, Canada”. Kissel’s stage presence and command of the crowd took off during the band’s 90’s country medley. Right as the medley was ending, guitarist Matty McKay hit the first notes of Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” echoed back by fiddle player Tyler Vollrath, the band went right into the song without missing a beat, sending the capacity crowd back to a fever pitch.
Two hours after the show had started, the crowd still wanted more. After roaring chants of “3-2-1”, Kissel’s 2015 top 5 hit, the band came back out for a three song encore that wrapped up with Brett’s (and mine) favorite song, “Callin’ Baton Rouge”. If Brett Kissel is playing a show near you, or you’re looking for a new act to road trip to see, you definitely won’t be disappointed by Canada’s reigning male artist of the year and his incredible live show.
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