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Published: Thursday, 10/10/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Florida Georgia Line graduates to headliner

Brian Kelley, Tyler Hubbard to play at BGSU Stroh Center on Sunday

BY BRIAN DUGGER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Country pop music duo Florida Georgia Line performs in concert at the York Fair in September, 2013, in York, Pa. Country pop music duo Florida Georgia Line performs in concert at the York Fair in September, 2013, in York, Pa.
ASSOCIATED PRESS/OWEN SWEENEY Enlarge

Brian Kelley likes to tell the story about how he and buddy Tyler Hubbard worked a bunch of odd jobs before their careers took off.

For Kelley, it was putting up bathroom stalls and painting houses. Hubbard got pretty good at tricking out golf carts.

Those possible career paths were derailed in December when they released their debut album as Florida Georgia Line, “Here’s to the Good Times.” When “Round Here” recently became a chart-topping single for multiple weeks, it was the third straight single from the album to reach that level. Only Brooks & Dunn have had their first three singles do that.

“We’re excited, just blown away. We owe everything to our fans,” Kelley said. “Getting recognized [in public] has been cool. People knowing us because of our music means that we’re doing something right.”

They took their fame to another level when they remixed their biggest hit, “Cruise,” as a collaboration with Nelly. It gave the song a fresh take for their country fans, but also introduced them to the hip-hop and pop worlds. The remix exploded, hitting No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Both versions of the single have combined to sell more than 6 million downloads.

“We are label mates with Nelly and he was interested in doing something like this because he liked the song. We’ve been big fans of Nelly for as long as we can remember — middle school even,” Kelley said. “We couldn’t be prouder. We got the mix back from him and probably listened to it 100 times in two hours. It’s crazy to think that song is still around.”

This won’t be the first time Kelley and Hubbard will be through the Toledo area. Florida Georgia Line opened for Luke Bryan at his sold-out show at the Huntington Center in February. After their high-intensity performance, they could be seen standing behind the stage taking in Bryan’s set.

“There’s a reason Luke Bryan is the reigning [Academy of Country Music’s] entertainer of the year,” Kelley said. 

“It’s been amazing watching him rock thousands and thousands of people every night. His set list is tight and his production is amazing, but most of all he’s just himself. That’s what we try to do — be ourselves — whether it’s sweating or just being crazy onstage. We go out there and feel the music and have a good time.”

Last weekend, Kelley and Hubbard kicked off a string of their own headlining dates. It’s their first major headlining tour, but just about every scheduled date to this point has sold out within days, including Sunday night’s stop in Bowling Green.

“It’s going to be a big production with big lights, a little smoke, a couple other surprises.”

A headlining tour is a natural progression in a burgeoning career, but Florida Georgia Line is also trying to evolve and become more well-rounded in their radio presence. 

After three raucous party songs to kick off their career (“Cruise,” “Get Your Shine On,” and “Round Here), the band is slowing it down with their next single, “Stay,” a tender ballad whose emotional video hit airwaves this week.

“We love having a good time, love to party, but at the same time we are real and have emotions, just like our fans. We thought it was a good time to put our foot out of the box and switch the game up,” Kelley said. “When we’ve performed it live, our fans are not only singing it, they are actually trying to live it. We couldn’t be more excited.”

Florida Georgia Line will be in concert on Sunday at Bowling Green State University’s Stroh Center at 7:30 p.m. Colt Ford and Dallas Smith will be opening the sold-out show.

Contact Brian Dugger at bdugger@theblade.com or on Twitter @DuggerCountry.



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