It’s mere minutes before Conner Smith hits the stage in Chicago for his very first headlining show, and the country hot shot looks a tad overwhelmed.

“I think anybody that says it's not nerve-wracking to do your first headlining thing is lying,” Smith tells Taste of Country as he runs his fingers through his hair while pacing around a crowded backroom of Joe’s Live in Chicago. “My biggest goal is that every person that bought a ticket tonight would leave and remember this show. One day they'll say, ‘I was at Conner Smith's first ever headlining show. You know what I mean?”

His question gets interrupted by the sound of his phone going off, as notifications from friends and family begin to stack up on his phone. But Smith has long been trained in the art of being professional, and he proceeds to put everything on mute.

“It’s just friends wanting tickets,” the Tennessee native says with a smirk mere minutes before taking the stage as part of his If I Went to College Tour, which heads back out on March 30 with openers Mackenzie Carpenter and Jonathon Hutcherson.

Certainly, tickets are becoming an increasingly common request for Smith, whose heart-thumping new single “Creek Will Rise” is sure to find its way into the hearts of a younger generation of country music fans when it heads to country radio later this spring.

“I call it my tour bus song,” says Smith of the bluegrass heavy tune that he wrote last August alongside Chris LaCorte, Chase McGill and Parker Welling. “I just feel like this is the song that's really going to elevate everything." (Pauses.) “Every artist has a tour bus song that will take them from the band bus to the tour bus. This song is the one that really checks all the boxes for me and is really going to be the one that separates myself a bit and will truly show what a Conner Smith song will sound like.”

Smith suddenly gets up out of the swivel chair he’s been sitting in and makes his way into the VIP area of the venue, and soon is approached by a fan who seemingly loses her sh-t over the fact that she was on her way to her bathroom and instead found herself standing in front of her favorite new country music artist.

“I try to be very intentional,” Smith says after making an impromptu visit to the birthday party this fan was attending. “Anytime I meet someone, I try to find a way to make it special.”

Certainly, it’s a tough task to always follow, especially as Smith’s career is sure to officially take off this summer as he heads out on the road as an opener for Luke Bryan on his Country On Tour.

“I know any artist once started as a music fan,” explains Smith, who is quickly making a career out of songs including “Learn From It,” “I Hate Alabama” and “Take It Slow.”

“So, I know how much that would've meant to me if my favorite artist stopped to talk to me.”

He’s got a point.

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