With the assembled press core clad in hard hats, neon yellow vests, safety glasses and steel-toe boots, Kenny Chesney surprised media with acclaimed world music/hip hop amalgamater Michael Franti at SoFi Stadium. Still a very active construction site, the sounds of drills, jack hammers and metal clanking nearby punctuated the event anchored by iconic multiple POLLSTAR Promoter of the Year, Louis Messina.
“We never do this sort of thing,” Chesney said before going to the stadium’s 6th floor walkaround plaza. “But to see something that’s going to be a part of so many people’s lives for generations, something where we’re going to be one of their very first concerts, that’s the kind of opportunity for someone like us that just doesn’t exist.”
Even before Chesney walked into camera range, he and special guest Franti caused a sensation with the steel workers already on the job. Waiting to go on, the pair joined the construction crew — asking questions, signing autographs and high five-ing the men doing the heavy lifting.
“I was saying if any one of those columns is even two inches off,” Franti marveled about the open-air expanse that will allow integration of the elements into the submerged stadium, “the whole thing won’t work. All their blood, sweat and tears are in this, and we will leave a little sweat and love here too.”
The 8-time Entertainer of the Year was in fine form, clearly enjoying the back and forth with Franti. Joking about being the most played artist on his SiriusXM No Shoes Radio station, Chesney said, “Bob Marley and the Wailers are the second most played, then Michael Franti & Spearhead. Their music is so uplifting and positive, it’s everything No Shoes Nation is about.”
And No Shoes Nation is already being felt hard. Before tickets were even on-sale, demand for Gillette Stadium – where No Shoes Nation was named and Chesney has played to 1.1 million fans – was so strong, a second show was added before tickets were even on sale. Having spent 2019 focusing on the markets that can’t stage a stadium-sized concert, the man The Los Angeles Times called “The People’s Superstar” is ready to get back to the largest venues.
“I was thinking when we came in,” Chesney said of SoFi, “about the sound, how with this stadium being sunk three stories into the ground, this is going to be loud! When we play, the music is going to be held inside here, but so is the sound of No Shoes Nation. When we take that stage, the energy that comes at you is so intense, but in a place like this, where it all gets captured, that passion coming at us is going to be so intense. I can’t wait.”
Even with rehearsals starting in February, Chesney must wait until April 18 at AT&T Stadium to get his show on the road. With a stop at SoFi on Aug. 1, where he will be the second artist to headline the still being built stadium, CHILLAXIFICATION 2020 will wrap with two shows Aug. 28 and 29 at Foxborough, Mass.’s Gillette Stadium. The man Variety deemed “country music’s only long-term stadium act” is already getting fired up for an incredible summer.
Upon closing the press conference, Chesney and Franti posed for a group shot with the construction men and women, whom they thanked for their work, to commemorate the stadium being built. Chesney also sat down for an interview with “TODAY’s” Natalie Morales, which airs Oct. 8.
The only country artist on Billboard’s Top 10 Touring Acts of the Last 25 Years, Chesney’s summer stadium treks have become legend. With fans often flying in from all over the United States, No Shoes Nation is clearly a country without physical borders; as Michael Franti & Spearhead attest, they are also one of the most musically fluid.
Chillaxification 2020 builds on the enduring rite of summer passage Chesney’s stadium shows have become. Blue Chair Bay Rum, Chesney’s award-winning line of island-distilled spirits returns as the presenting sponsor, with activations at stadiums throughout the summer.
Kenny Chesney’s Chillaxification 2020 Tour
with Florida Georgia Line, Old Dominion and Michael Franti & Spearhead
April 18 AT&T Stadium Arlington, Texas
April 25 Miller Park Milwaukee, Wis.
May 2 U.S. Bank Stadium Minneapolis, Minn.
May 9 Raymond James Stadium Tampa, Fla.
May16 Mercedes-Benz Stadium Atlanta, Ga.
May 22 Minute Maid Park Houston, Texas
May 23 The Alamodome San Antonio, Texas
May 30 Heinz Field Pittsburgh, Pa.
June 6 Lincoln Financial Field Philadelphia, Pa.
June 13 Busch Stadium St. Louis, Mo.
June 20 Ohio Stadium Columbus, Ohio*
June 27 Nissan Stadium Nashville, Tenn.
July 11 Arrowhead Stadium Kansas City, Mo.
July 18 CenturyLink Field Seattle, Wash.
July 25 Soldier Field Chicago, Ill.
August 1 SoFi Stadium Los Angeles, Calif.
August 8 Empower Field at Mile High Denver, Colo.
August 15 Ford Field Detroit, Mich.
August 22 MetLife Stadium East Rutherford, NJ
August 28 Gillette Stadium Foxborough, Mass.
August 29 Gillette Stadium Foxborough, Mass.
…and more dates to be announced.
*Florida Georgia Line, Kane Brown, Brett Young, Gabby Barrett and Tyler Rich