Kenny Chesney Feels Like an Athlete at Stadium Shows

Kenny Chesney just announced his 2019 Songs for the Saints Tour would not be a stadium tour, but instead head to smaller cities with moderate-sized venues. Still, after spending the last several years playing in nothing but stadiums, Chesney has learned plenty, mostly about how similar football and music can be.

“I don’t think anything surpasses the excitement of seeing your favorite team play, but I do think people who come to these stadiums really bring their most passionate selves," Chesney told Billboard. "When they come to these places — Levi Stadium, Arrowhead Stadium, Raymond James Stadium — they come to throw everything they have at their team. And I think they bring that mindset when they walk in the door for our shows, too.”

Chesney grew up in east Tennessee with a deep love of sports. But when he realized he would likely not be a professional athlete, he quickly found he could still experience the same adrenaline rush that he did on the field.

“When I was growing up, I had two passions: sports and music,” Chesney explained. “They were things that made you feel even more alive, and they lifted you up. It was almost hard to separate the way playing football made you feel from how being at a great concert was. Music is such a primal force: it’s inside us, without thinking. I think playing sports is the same way. How you feel when you’re on the field, that immediate rush is the ultimate high."

"When I started playing for tips and burritos at Quarterback’s [restaurant], it was the same thing — only less intense, because there were so many variables," he continued. "But as time went on, as I learned about writing songs, really dialing in on life and performing so I know I’m reaching people at the back of the room, that intensity of how it feels when it’s right became the same thing. When the drum kicks, the lights start and you can hear the crowd even before the curtain falls, it’s like that first play of the night. ... It’s on, and there’s nowhere in the world you’d rather be.”

Chesney still finds the same parallels today, even after almost 30 years as a musician.

“I love football, and the discipline that goes into playing it," noted the 50-year-old. "I’ve been lucky to be friends with Sean Payton, the Manning family, Drew Brees, a lot of those guys, not to mention so many people a casual fan might not know. I’ve been to practice; I’ve been to games. I still get a little amazed that I know every inch of a lot of these buildings I see on TV every week, because I stopped growing in the ninth grade, and that was the end of any dream of playing sports for a living."

“When I think about that, or when I’m onstage, and looking all the way to the top, it’s a pretty unbelievable feeling," added the singer. "All those games, all that energy, and we get to be part of these places in a way that’s just as passionate and intense in a whole other way. It reminds me how powerful music can be.”

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Find dates for Chesney's Songs for the Saints Tour at KennyChesney.com.

Photo Credit: Getty images/Emma Mcintyre