At RodeoHouston, Brad Paisley is the Same Brad Paisley as Always, Thank God

Brad Paisley pulls the crowd in every time.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez
Brad Paisley pulls the crowd in every time.
Brad Paisley
NRG Stadium
March 19, 2K22

If you had handed me a blank sheet of paper ahead of his 2022 RodeoHouston performance and asked me to guess 10 songs that would show up on his setlist, I would have scored an easy 90 percent. The only place where it felt he zigged where I expected a zag was the inclusion of "Waiting on a Woman," a perfectly acceptable song that features Andy Griffith that I assumed would be swapped out with either a new single or something a little more Rodeo, like "This is County Music."

I don't say this to damn Brad Paisley, I say it to praise him. For something like a decade now he's been swapping that same broad collection of songs into different configurations, updating it on only the slightest of levels, and after two years of uncertain times, I want the warm security of knowing that for one night at least I'm going to get exactly what I expect from a performer.

Brad Paisley is the most consistently great performer of the modern RodeoHouston era. Other country stars may try their best, but few of them make the Rodeo feel special the way that Paisley does. Even though I know on an intellectual level that he's just performing the same songs he always performs, his mix of talent, charm, and obvious love for the event pulls me in every time. I laugh at "Ticks." I nod my head to "Water." I roll my eyes at "I'm Still a Guy," easily the second dumbest song regular played at the Rodeo behind Tim McGraw's "Indian Outlaw." (You can slot "Country Girl (Shake It For Me)" at a distant third, as I will take twerking for the moon over toxic masculinity and racial ickiness every day.)

click to enlarge
Paisley presents a playlist both predictable and gratifying.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez

Brad Paisley — and now his fiddle and banjo players too — gets down in the dirt, and that's something I can respect a lot no matter how far away I may be sitting from the action.

This year, due to health issues, I didn't get to have my full platonic ideal RodeoHouston experience. I didn't get to sit in a massage chair or cheer on new born chickens or knock years of my life eating fried cookie dough. But I got to see the one RodeoHouston show I always go out of my way to see, and that's enough. Well, that an sitting in the mess that is RodeoHouston traffic. Some things change, but some things — Brad Paisley killing it at the Rodeo and driving on Kirby 30 minutes before show time — are eternal.

Personal Bias: Paisley hasn't been playing "Crushin' It" lately, which I think is a shame because that's an all time meathead classic.

So, How Was The Rodeo: They added breakaway roping for the first time this season and it rules; please consider giving the women more events. The all star calf scramble was a bit of a let down, to be honest. I am sad we are now at the longest point before mutton will be busted again.

Overhead in the Crowd: "Maybe they're on steroids, maybe they're Russian," said one man, on the subject of a certain chuck wagon racing team's recent superiority.

Random Notebook Dump:
Paisley changed the reference in "American Saturday Night" from "Back in the USSR" to "a Ukrainian flag behind the bar" while the yellow and blue came up behind him.