Cowboy boots made their way inside the Koger Center for the Arts as a crowd of students gathered for Country at Koger, a free country music concert hosted in partnership with Carolina Productions and Gamecock Entertainment.
The event was a part of Carolina Welcome, series of events Gamecock Entertainment is hosting to celebrate students being back on campus. The concert three performers — Jordana Bryant, Vincent Mason and Will Cullen — were originally scheduled to perform on the Koger Center's outdoor plaza, but a thunderstorm forced the show into the building's lobby.
While weather may have impacted where the show was, students in attendance remained lively and erupted in cheers after each song. Between sets, the three artists went into the crowd and interacted with fans and students.
In addition to music, organizers brought in food trucks and created giveaways for the audience, which included the artists tossing CLIF Bars and packaged headphones into the crowd.
"It was a very intimate setting, so I feel like we were able to interact," said Madison Kaup, a third-year exercise science student. "We definitely had a good time."
Bryant was the event's first performer and set a high-energy tone for the night. In addition to performing her song "Penniless and Broke," Bryant debuted her unreleased song “Whiplash” during the concert.
Mason followed Bryant with performances of his songs "Made 4" and "The Breakdown," which he said brought the audience into his set.
“I felt like people were listening, and I got to see how they were reacting," Mason said. "It was close. It was cool. And I feel like you got to know everybody a little bit.”
Finishing the show, Cullen played his song "How'd You Do It" and worked the crowd with mashups of famous songs, including covers of Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber and Smash Mouth. Like Bryant, Cullen also brought out his own unreleased song "Kiss Someone Sober."
Cullen, who graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., said the performance reminded him of his time as a college student while he was entering the music scene.
"I've had a performance every school year since I started playing guitar, the past two years," Cullen said. "I graduated. So this is my little 'still-putting-around-on-campuses' kind of show. It really took me back."
Off the stage, the Country at Koger audience got involved with line dancing and sing-alongs.
Nate Terracio, the director of the Koger Center for the Arts, said he believes that the venue's close proximity to campus allows students to enjoy college life to the fullest.
“Part of the memory-making is meeting people and doing things that may be outside the classroom that creates an experience that you will remember for a lifetime,” Terracio said.
Coming up, the Koger Center will host a series of concerts in its Live Outside series on Sept. 10, Sept. 17, Sept. 24 and Oct. 1. These concerts will each start at 5:30 p.m. and will feature a variety of different music genres free on the plaza.