On stage at MetLife Stadium on Saturday for the opening weekend of his What Makes You Country tour, the “Most People Are Good” singer joked that his opening act Sam Hunt “works out a lot,” and that Bryan’s fans should not expect the same dedication from him.
“I got the right kind of six-pack,” Bryan announced to over 80,000 of his fans before rubbing his belly and breaking out into a freestyle song about six packs. “I ain’t gonna give up no cold beer on a Sunday.”
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Although the country star, 41, does his best to keep in “a minimal amount of shape” by keeping cycling gear, baseball gloves and footballs on his tour bus, he has a few other indulgences alongside beer that he’s not quite ready to give up on either.
When he’s on tour in the West Coast, Bryan tells PEOPLE he loves to visit In-N-Out, and although he rarely eats fast food, when he does, it’s hard for him to resist a Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Chick-fil-A (with a side salad because he has to “fight the urge on the waffle fries”).
However, the “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” singer also has a few culinary tricks up his sleeve. He admits he “loves to cook,” and tries to impress his band and team when he gets in the kitchen. His go-to dish is chicken and rice soup, and he dubbed “Chicken and Rice Soup Day” one of his team’s favorites on tour.
“My diet on the road is a lot better than my diet at home,” the “Drink a Beer” singer says. “‘When I get home, I have all my favorite restaurants that I like to frequent. So when I’m out on the road, you don’t trust new places and try to stay to the confines of peanut butter.”
Bryan said he begins his day with a cup of coffee and often eats a peanut butter sandwich with banana before heading to catering. “You never wanna get on stage with a real full stomach,” he says with a laugh. “That never makes you feel confident.”
Throughout Saturday’s show, Bryan made many efforts to connect with his fans, whether he was taking a tequila shot on stage or passing out beers from a cooler, including one he’d taken a sip from. The country star wants to make sure his fans are having as much fun as possible during his concerts, so he recently partnered with Verizon Wireless for a unique fan experience through Verizon Up, a rewards program which gives customers the opportunity to redeem points for VIP tickets to artists like Luke Bryan, Justin Timberlake, and Maroon 5. For every $300 spent toward their wireless bill, fans have a chance to redeem a credit to see the concerts up-close in a private section.
Although fans go crazy over Bryan’s hip-shaking and dancing, the “Light It Up” singer makes conscious efforts to make his concerts feel intimate to every fan, even when he’s in large stadiums. He tries to connect with “everyone in the room” by pointing and waving, but also through the lighting and video walls. Bryan also makes an effort to interact with kids at his shows and often pulls children on stage to accompany him in a sing-along.
“It’s always tricky playing a huge stadium and making it feel very, very intimate,” Bryan says. “I try to connect with everyone in the room and wave to the people in the upper deck and people on the field too. We certainly relish the opportunity of being in stadiums and we try to make it the best fan experience possible.”
Although the American Idol judge performs year-round, he loves his shows in the summer because they relate most to what he sings about and what fans “flock to”: the outdoors, hanging out with friends and “putting on a big party.”
“Summertime and country music certainly go hand and hand,” he says. “I love every opportunity to perform and play different venues, but when summertime rolls around, it turns into a whole different dynamic and it feels even more special. There’s a magic in the air when you’re out there on a summer night playing your music.”