Last Saturday night, snow flurries fell outside the HUB-Robeson Center as the temperature hovered around 33 degrees. Despite the shivery and snowy weather, the Student Programming Association hosted one of the hottest duos in country music — Brothers Osborne. Known for their smash hits “Stay a Little Longer” and “21 Summer,” the CMA-winning pair promised nothing less than a showcase of their raw talents for the HUB LateNight concert.
A hefty line of country-music-loving Penn Staters snaked around the HUB before the doors of Alumni Hall opened at 9:45 p.m. Once inside, the crowd caught a glimpse of the stage decorated with flea-market-esque accessories — no doubt inspired by the title of Brothers Osborne’s album, “Pawn Shop.” Antique televisions, radios, a totem pole and even the leg lamp from “A Christmas Story” adorned the stage among several guitars and a glistening drum set. An old-timey vibe emanated from the stage, as if shrouded by a real-life Instagram filter — maybe Nashville?
At the sight of the antique TV screens onstage, one crowd member yelled, “Are we going to watch the NCAA Tournament? That’d be lit.”
Rest assured, the concert became more lit than college hoops when T.J. and John Osborne arrived on stage. The lights went down, and a crisp guitar riff from their title track, “Pawn Shop” cut through the darkness. An orange light show danced on the ceilings as the crowd sang along and bobbed to the beat of the drums.
Looking at the brothers, you’d never think they could possibly form a band with a cohesive sound. John Osborne sported a cowboy hat and full red beard, while T.J. was wearing slim-fit jeans and had a clean, slick haircut. Regardless of their seemingly opposite appearances, the music that the brothers produced was pure country magic. While both brothers played guitar expertly, T.J. held the microphone most of the night, providing lead vocals and rhythm guitar with John as back-up singer and lead guitar. The combination of the two talents created a full-bodied sound for a mixture of bluesy guitar ballads and southern rock anthems.
Aside from jaw-dropping instrumentals, even a stranger to Brothers Osborne in the crowd could hear why these guys nabbed the CMA for Best Vocal Duo in 2016. The performance was a non-stop demonstration of some of the most unique and harmonious male vocals in country music today.
Brothers Osborne played a set list of all their most beloved songs, playing each one with enough energy to fill the Bryce Jordan Center, despite the humble HUB venue. An enthusiastic audience roared with cheers when T.J. Osborne shouted, “What’s up, Penn State?” So, it’s safe to say that Brothers Osborne was received with a warm, blue and white welcome they won’t soon forget.
Keep up with who SPA is hosting next by following them on Twitter, @PSUSPA, or by checking out their website, www.spa.psu.edu.