Conner Smith Exudes Confidence On Opening Night Of First-Ever Headlining Tour

“My goal by the end of tonight, is to create a memory that we will remember for the rest of our lives,” Smith said


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

February 15, 2023


6:15 pm

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Conner Smith; Photo by Luke Hutcherson

On Thursday (Feb. 9) Conner Smith settled into Joe’s Live in Rosemont, IL for the opening night of his first-ever headlining IF I WENT TO COLLEGE 2023 Tour. 

The night kicked off with Smith’s special guest Jonathan Hutcherson who prompted the crowd to gather around the stage and melt into the grasp of his stunning vocals. He presented an array of covers and original tracks including his most recent release, “Blue Collar.”

Within the brief 30-minute intermission following Hutcherson’s set, concertgoers had the chance to grab a drink and claim their spots as close to the stage as they could, hoping for the best view of Smith’s memorable performance. 

At 9 p.m., the smoke-filled room was illuminated by the spotlight as the rising country star entered with his first song of the night, “Orange and White.” The audience, which featured a slew of Tennessee fans sporting Volunteers jerseys, immediately joined in, singing along to the spirited track. 

“My goal by the end of tonight, is to create a memory that we will remember for the rest of our lives,” Smith said before diving into an electrifying cover of Morgan Wallen’s chart-topping hit, “You Proof.”

Conner Smith; Photo by Luke Hutcherson
Conner Smith; Photo by Luke Hutcherson

Before taking the stage, Smith revealed to Country Now that his 75-minute setlist would feature a number of covers and a few unreleased songs in addition to his rising fan favorites like “College Town,” “Somewhere In A Small Town,” his first Top 40 hit “Learn From It,” and more. 

He shared the first taste of his new music with the second song of his set, which he believes will be a big turning point in his career once it’s unveiled in two weeks. 

“I have never been more confident in a song than I am in this one,” he revealed. “It’s one of those songs that I really think will turn the chapter on my career. I feel like the first year of my music was really true to where I was at in life, and I think we’re gonna turn a page on that and kind of grow it up a little bit and this song’s the perfect song to do it.”

In addition to the three new tracks fans got to hear, Smith also shared his hopeful plans to release his debut album later this year. 

“My game plan is more music, more music, more music. So we’re gonna try it out on the road and what works, we’ll put out and what doesn’t, we’ll throw away.”

Conner Smith; Photo by Luke Hutcherson
Conner Smith; Photo by Luke Hutcherson

It was clear from the start of the night that Smith already has a close-knit relationship with his fans, and he will continue to strengthen that bond throughout this run. After this night, he surely gained a few new fans and even earned a few bonus points with others as a result of his effort to interact in the intimate setting and show his true appreciation for their support.

“I think it’s nerve-wracking,” Smith admitted of his first headlining tour. “I mean, any artist that told you it wasn’t scary to do the first headlining thing would be lying, but it’s super cool. You look at where we were last year to where we are now, and it’s just grown so much. I can only imagine where it’s gonna be a year from now.”

Despite his nerves, confidence oozed through his stage presence as he used his quick thinking and true professionalism to overcome any small changes that may have unexpectedly arisen during his set.

Not only did the 22-year-old singer/songwriter bring a fan up on stage in an attempt to sing a duet of Garth Brooks’ classic, “Friends In Low Places,” but he also offered up the mic to the crowd on numerous occasions, which only added to their excitement. 

Conner Smith; Photo by Luke Hutcherson
Conner Smith; Photo by Luke Hutcherson

At one point, to bring the energy up to new heights, he exited the stage and slowly made his way through the audience where he eventually stepped up on a table and finished out his cover of Luke Bryan’s signature song, “Country Girl (Shake It For Me).” Ahead of this number, he reminded the audience that he will be hitting the road this summer in support of Bryan’s Country On Tour. 

Smith’s set wouldn’t have been complete without a cover of “Sweet Home Alabama” following his heartbreak anthem “I Hate Alabama,” and lastly, his newest single, “Take It Slow.”

YouTube video

After a roar of applause erupted from his final performance, Smith looked out into the crowd in awe of all the people that bought the tickets and bought the merch because they truly believe in his music career. He then hopped off stage to sign merchandise and take photos with every single fan who stuck around to meet him.

“It’s a real thing to see people buy tickets and show up for you and to know the songs,” he shared. “It’s a special thing.”

Presented by the Monster Entergy Outbreak tour, Conner Smith’s headlining trek will continue through April with support from Jonathan Hutcherson on the first half and Mackenzie Carpenter on the second half. His final two stops will take place in Nashville on April 27 and April 28.

Beginning July 6 in Wantagh, NY, Smith will join select dates of Luke Bryan’s Country On Tour. This trek will hit a total of 36 cities across the U.S. with stops in major markets like Philadelphia, Denver, Nashville, Orlando, Charlotte, Raleigh, and more.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.