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Jason Aldean at Reliant Stadium, 3/11/2014

Jason Aldean Reliant Stadium March 11, 2014

We're a bit confused, but somehow still impressed, in the aftermath of Tuesday night's performance at RodeoHouston.

You see, Jason Aldean made his fifth consecutive rodeo appearance, and from the moment he took the stage, everything was right with the world. He showed up, red Solo cup and Fireball whiskey in hand, and immediately launched into his brand of country-rock with "Crazy Town."

The crowd was massive -- clocking in at 72,088 -- which always makes for a much more exciting show. Fans were roaring and screaming during the rodeo, and somehow managed to up that a notch or 12 at the moment Aldean took the stage. That's what rodeo season is about.

And we can see why the ladies were screaming. Aldean is a cute one, and loves to flirt with the crowd. He was all gussied up in some ripped-up jeans and a pearl-snap shirt. We also liked that his style was a little edgier than more traditional country artists, without quite devolving into "bro-country."

As soon as he started to play, we noted that he's what's good about "new country," with both a laid-back attitude and killer stage presence. He and his rowdy band were doing so well on hits like "When She Says Baby," which is a standout based on the crowd's reaction alone. We even jammed out to "Big Green Tractor" with no shame, despite not owning or ever having ridden a tractor.

Aldean has a natural ease onstage, like he was born to be up there in front of a massive crowd. He's straight entertainer through and through, and has probably always been that way.

The concert was panning out to be a great one -- the noise from the crowd kept things a a ten, and Aldean was a spitfire on that mike. But then something crazy happened, and we were taken aback.

Aldean was playing "Dirt Road Anthem," which has a great, catchy hook, and he started country-rapping. Not in a Nelly "Country Grammar" kind of way, either; more like that new-school hick-hop kind of way. Our jaws dropped. Hick-hop is not the one.

To be fair, though, if Aldean is going to insist on those kind of antics, he's may be one of the only country musician who can pull it off. He's so laid-back and, well, country, that it doesn't come off as ridiculous. At least not in a "Mud Jug" kind of way.

REWIND: "Hick-Hop" Is Garbage. Jesus. It's Utter Garbage.

Review continues on the next page.

 

Jason Aldean at Reliant Stadium, 3/11/2014

And to be even more fair, his fans really seemed to dig it, and that counts for quite a bit in our book. If the fans dig it, he has to be doing something right. Even our date seemed quite enthralled with Aldean's rap skills, even if we weren't, and both he and most of the stadium sang along to every word.

Aldean played every minute of his allotted hour-long set and probably would have played much longer, but the announcer broke through to shut the party down. We have to admit we were a little disappointed to see him go.

We're completely and totally over hick-hop, but we aren't going to let that ruin Tuesday's experience. Aldean truly is a show pony, with his stage banter about country roads and Fireball whiskey, and they damn near had to pull him off the stage at the end. We can respect the hell out of that, even if it involved some confusing country grammar.

Nice job, Aldean. if he comes back next year for a sixth straight rodeo performance -- and we're sure he might -- maybe he can keep the rapping to a minimum, or at least do Houston a solid and pull up one of our many legendary rappers to assist.

That we would cosign on.

Personal Bias: My disdain for hick-hop is not a quiet one. I stand by the fact that the earth needs to swallow those songs whole. Once it does, we'll all go back to pretending they never existed.

The Crowd: Younger, hipper and much more excitable than the previous shows that I've been to this rodeo season. Also, for the first time, I had to fight my way through the crowds in the stadium. Seems awful, but it was a nice change.

Overheard In the Crowd: "You'll need to get drink tickets. Lots of them." Maybe somebody knew there would be rapping.

Random Notebook Dump: I will only truly forgive this if Aldean makes good by pulling a Luke Bryan and high-fiving the entire perimeter of the stadium. Still the most impressive lung feat I've seen at the rodeo in recent years.

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