Sitting backstage just outside of Chicago earlier this month (Jan. 4), Morgan Wallen doesn’t act like there is a sold-out crowd anxiously awaiting him just a room away. He’s not making last-minute changes to the set list, or checking to see if the new video screens are working, or even worrying that he is going to remember every lyric to every song he is going to sing on the very first night of his headlining If I Know Me Tour.

He’s got this. Heck, he was made for this.

But he's still feeling some tension. “It’s more excitement than nervousness,” he tells Taste of Country, as he straightens the red-and-black vest he will wear up on stage later that night. “Everyone else does the hard work— but yeah, it’s my name and my image up there, so I want to make sure that everything is done right. I like to put my stamp on it.”

Wallen should rest easy, as he is in Chicago, a market that he has made much headway in as of late, essentially doubling his crowd size at this particular venue in a matter of months.

“I fell like I have gotten to know Chicago pretty well, and every time I come here I have a really good response,” says the singer, who is currently watching his latest single "Whiskey Glasses" find its way up the charts. “I don’t have to do anything other than be myself at this point, and that’s cool.”

Just a few hours earlier, Wallen had played an acoustic session with some lucky fans and instantly felt at home.

“I went out there today and winged it, and just said what was on my mind, and it was like the people already knew me,” he says. “These people are for real. I’m starting to realize that they aren’t just here for ‘Up Down.’  They are here for me and they are in deep into this project. They care about what we are doing.”

It’s a trend that Wallen is seeing more and more these days, all over the country. But at the same time, it’s the new fans that also have him just as excited.

“We have diehard fans that know every lyric to every song,” says Wallen. “Then we have some people just finding the album.”

And for both sets of fans, the good news is that Wallen has every intention of playing nearly every song on the album at his upcoming tour dates.

“I’m playing the whole album because I feel like I owe my fans that,” he says. “I have some audibles where I can play a new song if I feel like it's necessary. There are a few new songs I haven’t even recorded yet. I’m not even sure how they will end up sounding, but the band and I have practiced them, so we’ll see.”

And then there are a handful of covers, but not too many...because heck, who needs a cover when you are Morgan Wallen?

“My manager was saying that most people at the stage I’m at in my career have a ton more covers in their set list," notes Wallen. "But I don’t play a cover song till like eighth in the set. I’m actually really proud that I am able to do that, and the fans don’t seem to mind one bit.”

Morgan Wallen's Jason Isbell Cover Will Knock Your Socks Off

Watch Morgan Wallen's RISERS Performance of "Whiskey Glasses"

Behind the Scenes of RISERS With Morgan Wallen:

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