Singer-songwriter Ben Rector brought approximately 2,500 screaming fans together at Brady Theater on Thursday night for his biggest show in Tulsa ever on “The Biggest Tour I Have Done So Far” tour. His tour comes after his most recent and most successful album “Brand New,” reaching Billboard’s Top 10 album and singles charts.
Rector partnered with pop/indie singer Jacob Whitesides for the tour and the two proved to be a complimentary duo, engaging the crowd which included men, women and children ages 10 to 60 plus, from start to finish.
Every aspect of the show reflected the energetic, but laid-back personality both Rector and Whitesides are known for.
Whitesides is an 18-year-old Knoxville, Tennessee native who got his start on “X-Factor” and proved why he was selected to open for Rector’s shows. His voice was smooth and soulful, reminiscent of another 18-year-old pop star Shawn Mendes. Whitesides’ typical teenage personality was well-received by the audience as he quips to the crowd saying “Being an opener is like being on Tinder. You’re just hoping for a right swipe,” and “You’re so dope.”
To say his performance was good would do him an injustice. The young up-and-coming star chose a variety of songs, ranging in styles from emotional R&B to toe-tapping, head bobbing-pop. Some attendees might not have known who Whitesides was before the show, but they certainly did afterward. His vibrant personality and skilled vocals had even the 30-year-old entrepreneurs and 45-year-old parents singing along after a few lines of each song.
“Hit me up on social media. I’m really bored. I have no friends,” Whitesides said when he finished his set. His youthful goodbye resonated with the Twitter and Instagram obsessed audience who laughed and cheered in response.
There was a 20-minute gap between Whitesides’ and Rector’s sets where the anticipation was almost palpable. Show-goers were taking photos for social media, tweeting and let out a cheer every time they saw movement behind the curtain.
When Rector emerged, the screams hit a fever pitch. This town was where he got his start and he was obviously excited to be back.
Rector’s voice was as smooth and comforting live as it was on the record. His set was filled with songs from “Brand New” as well as some of his classics such as the relaxed “Let the Good Times Roll” and emotional “When I’m with You.” The audience knew all the words.
The self-described “Oklahoma kid” seemed to tap into the feelings of every show-goer with his quirky personality and complete understanding of the city. When he sang his song “Crazy,” which describes his life as an average guy who hangs out watching TV instead of partying like typical pop stars, Rector made statements with the lyrics like “Tulsa, it probably won’t get crazy.”
And the crowd erupted in laughter because he was right. His show was a party with a bunch of regular people, some who had to leave early because they had a midterm or a project to present at work the next morning.
This was the largest show Rector has ever done in Tulsa, his previous were held at the significantly smaller Cain’s Ballroom, but it still felt personal. The environment was like talking to a longtime friend in an incandescently lit coffee shop.
Rector’s normalcy was refreshing. He called out his mom and some of his other friends who were in the audience. He played the cowbell more than enthusiastically. He did the Cha-Cha slide because he said everyone in Oklahoma did it during middle school. He understood life in Tulsa.
When the last note on his piano was played there was larger than life applause and Rector’s appreciation seemed as big as the entire state.
The laid-back, khaki and button-down wearing normal guy who could sing songs nearly everyone can at least partially relate to, was home. It was apparent home was happy to see him, too.
For those who missed the show or want to see it again, there are concerts in Edmond, Oklahoma tonight, Dallas on Oct. 10 and various other locations during fall break. Check out the dates and purchase tickets at benrector.com