Award-winning country music artist Luke Combs set an attendance record at the Alerus Center, on Friday, Sept. 17.
About 22,000 tickets were sold for the event, part of Combs’ “What You See Is What You Get Tour,” named after his 2019 album of the same name. It’s just the third concert at the center since the coronavirus pandemic spread to the region, shortly after KISS played the Alerus Center in February 2020. Alerus Center General Manager Anna Rosburg said it was “amazing” to not only book an act like Combs, but to set a new record, and in such a short time for ticket sales.
“This is definitely the attendance record,” Rosburg said. “He broke the record within just a few days of going on sale. (In) the facility’s history, and as you know the facility is 20 years old, that's a pretty significant record.”
Combs took the stage and played a series of his hits, after opening acts Drew Parker and Ashley McBryde finished their sets. Combs is most known for being a chart-topping country artist, with hits including “Lovin’ on You,” and “Beer Never Broke My Heart,” both off the tour’s namesake album.
“North Dakota, how are you feeling tonight?” Combs asked after he took the stage at 9 p.m.
Shortly before launching into the song “One Too Many,” he added: “There’s probably a lot of people who will have one too many drinks tonight. If you are one of those people, this one’s for you.”
And with that, the crowd, already on their feet and screaming from the time Combs and his band walked on stage to the sound of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” went berserk.
Combs’ set was played from a stage set in the middle of the floor of the Alerus Center. He walked around the stage, sidling up to one band member or another. People in “the pit,” the standing room only area around the stage, jumped and sang in unison, then the entire audience roared in approval when Combs kicked a red plastic cup -- perhaps filled with beer? -- toward the ecstatic crowd.
Brian Veehlar, from Bismarck, attended the concert with his wife, two daughters and sons-in-law. It was the fourth time he’d seen Combs play. He knew from the first time he heard his music he’d be a fan.
“It’s the first time I’ve been here for a concert, but it looks phenomenal,” said Veehlar, about Comb’s stage setup. “When I heard 'When it rains it pours,' that’s the first song I heard, I loved Luke Combs ever since.”
Combs was originally scheduled to play the Alerus Center in early October 2020, but rescheduled when the coronavirus pandemic ground touring to a halt.
Speaking earlier on Friday, Rosburg said the show was not totally sold out, but she couldn’t say for sure how many, if any, tickets remained for those who purchased them at the gate.
It would be a long day for Rosburg. Crews at the Alerus Center had to get Combs’ set up taken down and out the door, in order to get the Alerus Center ready for UND's Potato Bowl matchup against Drake, on Sunday, at 4 p.m. Rosburg said she had a bag packed in case she needed to stay at the Alerus Center.
Combs’ attendance of around 22,000 people surpasses that of the roughly 19,500 people who came to see George Strait in 2013. Cher sold around 19,200 tickets in 2002, and nearly 17,000 people came to see Metallica in 2018, that concert set records in terms of merchandise, and food and drinks sold.
“What You See Is What You Get” debuted at No. 1 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart, as well as Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart with the equivalent of 172,000 units sold, according to information on the Alerus Center’s website. It was also a global No. 1 album, topping charts in Canada, Australia and the U.K.
Combs’ debut album “This One’s For You,” was recently certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. The album was released in 2017.