Wearing a Timberwolves jersey, enough tattoos to rival any NBA player and a ballcap emblazoned with "Family," Kane Brown landed Friday night at Target Center, flying Peter Pan-style from the light rigging to the stage.
That wasn't the most daring thing Brown did, though. The buff, macho-looking dude showed alluring vulnerability and genuine humility — the kind of be-humble-and-kind and love-your-spouse-and-kids sentiments that have made him a major country star in the past five years.
"I don't know why I'm so emotional tonight," he blurted before singing "For My Daughter." Then he realized he was wearing on his finger a hair tie from his 2-year-old daughter Kingsley, which he'd discovered in his tennis shoe while dressing for the concert.
After kicking off his show with the rambunctious, unreleased rocker "Riot" and the playful "Pull It Off," Brown, 28, slowly opened up about himself. He told his story, in conversation and song.
The Tennessee-reared singer talked about wetting his bed at age 6, which resulted in his stepfather roughing him up and grandma turning in the abuser to authorities.
He spoke about being the only person of color in his mom's family (he's biracial) and meeting his older siblings when he was 16. (One of them, DJ Jevity, spun music between acts Friday.)
He shared about growing up poor in trailer parks, wearing his water shoes to play basketball and attending seven different high schools.
He recalled placing first and second in a high school talent show and giving his winnings ($75) to his mom. He reprised songs from the talent show for the 10,000 fans at Target Center as he reflected on his early days as a budding music fan.
Making his first arena tour as a headliner, Brown messed up at one point, singing Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" when he meant to offer Sean Kingston's "Beautiful Girls," then blamed himself because those tunes have the same beat.
Between messing up and 'fessing up, he seemed honest, humble and human — perfectly imperfect.
And with his burly baritone, Brown had the perfect songs to appeal to women, couples and even kids. Often using a hip-hop vocal cadence, he favors straightforward lyrics that depend on tugs at the hear rather than clever turns of phrase.
They are the kind of songs to which couples get engaged — it happened to a man and woman on Friday — and Brown later invited the lucky ones onstage to dance to his encore of the 2017 blockbuster ballad "Heaven." (The song's message: Being with you has got to be what heaven is.) They even got congratulatory hugs from the singer.
It was a family-friendly concert, with Brown praising U.S. troops and dissing racism. Like most country arena shows, he used flames, lasers and video effects. Unlike most country singers, he never hoisted a beer, though he did crank up the volume for the recent hit "One Mississippi," which is about getting drunk and having sex.
Even though Brown sang about love (too many titles to mention), forgiveness ("Learning") and pledging to be the father he never had ("For My Daughter"), he wasn't all about family.
He invited opening acts Restless Road and Chase Rice to join him for "Famous Friends," his 2021 hit (with Chris Young) about people in a small town who are famous in their own hometown. It was a festive celebration punctuated by Crunch, the Timberwolves mascot, and Brown shooting T-shirts into the crowd with air guns.
The famous folks onstage looked like they were having as much fun as the fans in the arena. The only ones who maybe had a better time were the couple who got engaged and the dude who caught Brown's Wolves jersey, which the singer tossed into the audience at the end of his 90-minute performance.
Judging by the crowd's reaction, that shirtless exit was almost as exciting as Brown's entrance.
Twitter: @JonBream 612-673-1719