"Guys, it's a Wednesday night, and this is a sold-out show," said singer-songwriter Ben Rector near the beginning of his set.
Rector, along with opener Tyrone Wells, performed at the Bijou Theater for an excited crowd Wednesday night. Rector has been to Knoxville several times and has developed a large Rocky Top following.
Wells, a singer from California, experienced Knoxville for the first time this week. Their group was not large; it consisted of Wells with his acoustic guitar, a bassist and a drummer. They all played more than one instrument during their time performing. He started with songs from his most recent album, "Metal & Wood." The songs prompted the crowd to clap along. However, he also slid into slower songs, such as "Sea Breeze," a love song.
Wells' playful, lighthearted music seemed to reflect his personality and got the crowd excited about the performance.
Both Rector and Wells have songs featured in TV shows, such as "One Tree Hill" and "Vampire Diaries."
Carly McGuire, sophomore in child and family studies, said, "I feel like these artists are the types that you hear in a TV show. You like the song, but you don't know who sings it because they aren't as well-known yet as they should be."
After Wells' performance, the lights switched off and a keyboard started playing a repeated note. Then, with a flash of light, Rector took the stage. He continued with visuals throughout the concert, adding to the energy.
Rector said he was excited to play in Knoxville.
"We haven't slept in close to 36 hours," Rector said to the audience. "We had to fly through the night in order to get to Knoxville from California. But if there is one crowd we would want to do that for, it's you all."
He played a mixture of old and new songs, primarily focusing on his most well-known and popular songs, including "Ordinary Love," "The Beat," and "When a Heart Breaks." Depending on the song, he either played guitar, mandolin or piano.
The atmosphere and connection were some people's favorite parts of the show.
"It felt like we were just a bunch of old friends hanging out, listening to Ben sing," said Megan Scheuneman, junior in social work. "He is so great about making the crowd feel welcome."
He finished with what he said was his last song, "Sailboat," a song about loneliness. He left, but returned for an encore. His closing song was a cover of "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" which had the crowd on their feet.
"I loved his cover of 'Dance with Somebody,'" Scheuneman said. "It was a good way to end. Everybody got up and started dancing."
Scheuneman expressed what seemed to be a common sentiment about the performance.
"Ben is incredibly talented at what he does," Scheuneman said. "As always, he put on an amazing show."