It is amazing sometimes how fast a music act rises from unknown status to stardom. One moment an act is playing in front of bar patrons, then suddenly it is playing a coliseum where everyone in the audience is singing along with every song.
Country music artists seem to rise particularly fast when fans latch onto a particular act. Take the band Lady Antebellum, for example.
Less than a year ago, the country music trio were performing at the Coastal Carolina Fair in Ladson. When Lady Antebellum returned to the Lowcountry Thursday night, the band had seen a considerable boost to its career, and was now opening for country superstar Tim McGraw at the North Charleston Coliseum.
The Nashville-based band had also scored a Grammy Award and three Academy of Country Music Awards earlier in the year.
After a brief opening set by up-and-coming country act Love and Theft, Lady Antebellum hit the stage seemingly on a mission to convert the last few holdouts in the coliseum crowd of more than 8,000.
Singers Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott prowled the stage with guitarist Dave Haywood, belting out hits such as "Love Don't Live Here," "I Need You Now" and "American Honey." Later in the set, the band covered John Mellencamp's "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." before closing with "I Run to You."
After a short intermission, the strains of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" began to pulsate from the speakers as the house lights went down. After a short video that showed McGraw pulling up to the show on a motorcycle, the singer's silhouette appeared on the stage curtain, which then dropped to reveal McGraw and his band.
A couple hundred fans lucky enough to score standing-room-only spots near the front of the stage were rewarded with handshakes and high-fives from McGraw as he walked up and down the catwalk that extended from the stage out into the crowd.
McGraw ran through a career-spanning selection of his hits, including "Last Dollar (Fly Away)," "Let It Go," "Smile" and "Everybody Hates Me." Later McGraw performed a couple of songs solo, and when the full band rejoined him he turned in a surprisingly good cover of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer."
More hits followed, including "I Like It, I Love It" and "Southern Voice." The encore included "Live Like You Were Dying" and "The Cowboy in Me."
Before McGraw hit the stage, it genuinely appeared that Lady Antebellum might upstage the more seasoned performer. It didn't take McGraw long, though, to demonstrate why he is one of the reigning kings of country music.
He's a showman who doesn't feel the need to show off onstage, choosing instead to allow his music to be the focus.
Thursday night, it almost seemed as if there were two headliners at times, but in the end there was no doubt who was the star of the show.