Dan + Shay Light Up Chicago’s United Center During Unforgettable Heartbreak On The Map Tour

“I would not want to be anywhere else on planet Earth than Chicago at this very moment,” the duo’s Shay Mooney shared from the stage amid the sold-out show.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

March 26, 2024

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Dan + Shay; Photo Provided

Dan + Shay visited Chicago, IL’s United Center on Friday, March 22 as the 12th stop on their headlining trek dubbed The Heartbreak On The Map Tour.

The sold-out crowd, many of whom donned light-up cowboy hats, bell bottoms, and cowboy boots, got to their feet and consumed the venue with their shrieks of excitement as the three-time GRAMMY winners made their grand entrance at approximately 8:50 PM. The lights dimmed, allowing Dan + Shay to magically sneak their way onto the center of the catwalk stage shaped in their signature “+” symbol. 

While only their silhouettes could be made out among the thick smoke surrounding them in the single spotlight, their vocals could be clearly made out as they delivered their 10th No. 1 song at country radio and lead single to their latest album, Bigger Houses, “Save Me the Trouble.”

Dan + Shay; Photo Provided
Dan + Shay; Photo Provided

Aside from the lively music, the stage itself added to the overall experience of the show with its color-changing LED lights that moved to the beat of each tune on the 22-song setlist. Until their third song of the night, 2018’s “All To Myself,” the band was hidden behind a sheer curtain on the main stage. Suddenly it dropped to reveal a group of epic musicians standing on multi-level platforms and two massive screens that also took the production level up a notch.  

Throughout the entirety of the nearly 90-minute show, fans were taken on a journey of the duo’s hits, making for the perfect sing-along style evening. They tipped their hats to their early days and also celebrated the journey it’s taken to reach their current chapter together by delivering a mix of timeless fan favorites and more recent chart-topping hits like “From The Ground Up,” “How Not To,” “10,000 Hours,” “Nothin’ Like You,” and more.

This night made it clear that fans have taken a strong liking to their latest album, Bigger Houses, because nearly every track off the project that was featured in the setlist earned just as much excitement as some of their best-known hits. The audience was treated to a several songs from the new collection including “Heaven + Back” “Breakin’ Up With A Broken Heart,” “Always Gonna Be,” “We Should Get Married,” which involved an outfit change featuring a pair of rhinestone studded leather jackets, and of course the song that their tour is amply named after, “Heartbreak on the Map.” Towards the end of their set, Dan + Shay also celebrated the album’s title track by bringing out the custom-built home that can be seen on the project’s cover art. 

Dan + Shay; Bigger Houses
Dan + Shay; Bigger Houses

The country stars only deviated from their own discography once to deliver a cover of the famed “Mr. Brightside,” during which they ran around the main floor of excited fans to get the crowd got pumped up and reenergized. 

Fittingly enough, both members of the duo had multiple “Speechless” moments throughout the show, which were prompted by the incredible energy of fans before them that sold out the home of the Chicago Bulls, which is also the biggest arena in the NBA. 

“From the second we stepped on this stage tonight, I had a feeling that this is going to be by far the best show of the Heartbreak on the Map Tour,” Dan Smyers gushed. “Every time we play in this city, y’all are so good to us. You are so very good to us, Chicago. You give us the warmest welcome, but there is something extra special in the room tonight. There is some magic here in the United Center. Thank y’all for showing up and thank y’all for selling This place out.” 

At one point, Shay Mooney warned, “You never know what’s gonna happen at a Dan + Shay show,” and that was proved to be true as the duo paused their show on several occasions to celebrate some very special fan moments. At one point, they made their way to the edge of the stage to snag a photo with a young fan who held up a poster revealing she was officially cancer-free. This caused Smyers to get misty-eyed and compelled him to spill his heart out once again to the audience. 

“I’m getting emotional already. That’s not supposed to happen,” Smyers admitted before letting fans know that he was going to pull out his phone and take a video of the entire arena so that he can “remember this night the rest of my life.” 

After snapping a clip of the room full of fans jumping up and down, Mooney shared, “I would not want to be anywhere else on planet Earth than Chicago at this very moment. Man, you guys are amazing. Seriously.”

Another unforgettable moment came later when a couple in the front row got engaged during their delivery of “You,” causing Dan + Shay to once again take a break from performing to congratulate them on their love and happiness. 

Prior to this night, the city of Chicago had already held a special place in their hearts, as they revealed that it’s where they performed their very first show at another famous country venue in the city, Joe’s On Weed St. 

“This place has so much history. It’s so special. We love being in here. We love your city. We love you guys. The best country music fans in the world are here in Chicago,” Smyers shared. 

These new memories added to the already emotional evening as Dan + Shay reflected on the fact that just a few years ago they didn’t know if they would play together again. They had taken some time off to work through some personal struggles, which left them feeling unsure of their future. Luckily, they found a way to enter a new chapter together stronger than ever and as a result, they are able to continue building their successful career as an award-winning duo. 

Being that Chicago was their last show for nearly two weeks, Dan + Shay took the opportunity to extend the night for as long as possible, as they expressed that they weren’t ready for it to end and wanted to keep the celebrations going.

“You guys are singing the words of these songs that haven’t even been on the radio yet and you singing songs off the brand-new album makes us feel really, really good. It’s been a couple of years since Shay and I have been out doing a headlining tour like this, so I want to encourage you, Chicago, throughout the evening, we are going to play so much music, more music than we’ve played on a tour,” Smyers revealed before sitting at a piano under a large disco ball to continue with their string of heartfelt tunes.  

With only a handful of songs remaining in their setlist, Dan + Shay dedicated their acoustic performance of “Glad You Exist” to the fans in every section of the arena as a thank you for them spending their “hard-earned money” to come see their concert. 

“There are a lot of things that you guys can be doing on a Friday night. Existing in the world these days is very, very expensive. It is expensive to go to a concert and each and every one of y’all chose to spend your hard-earned money to come to the Dan + Shay show. That is something that we’ll never take for granted. That’s something that will never be lost on us,” Smyers said. 

Eventually, the fun had to come to an end, but they left fans on a high note with favorites “Speechless,” and “Tequila,” which allowed Mooney to put his outstanding vocal range on full display one last time while Smyers encouraged the crowd to get loud with his epic guitar playing. 

As Mooney said, the lively energy moved like a wave throughout the entire crowd, making it feel like one big “bonfire” full of friends who all came together under one roof to celebrate their love for country music.

“Genuinely, I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun on stage. I feel like I’m in the biggest bonfire of all time, and you guys are just here singing along. It’s unbelievable, man. This is crazy,” Mooney admitted.

Smyers then chimed in to say, “Thank you guys for being in it. Thank you, guys, for being connected with us tonight. I’m feeling this magic.”

Dan + Shay collectively maintained an impressive level of stamina and genuine joy throughout their performance, and they will be ready to do it all over again for their next show in Milwaukee, WI on April 4. 

Supporting Dan + Shay on this tour are acclaimed singer/songwriters Ben Rector and Hailey Whitters, who also made a lasting impact on the Chi-town arena and likely gained a few new fans as a result of their Friday night performances. 

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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.