Brad Paisley Reliant Stadium March 4, 2014
When it comes to starting a massive undertaking, you want to start strong and get things off on the right foot. With that in mind, it makes sense that the Rodeo would start its 20 nights of concerts with one of the strongest, most reliable names in country music. After all, Brad Paisley is the guy who has headlined three shows on the Rodeo's Top 20 Paid Attendance Chart.
And while Tuesday night's show may not enter any record books, that doesn't mean that Paisley didn't deliver on a cold Texas night. Yes, if you saw him last year on his "Beat the Summer" tour, most of the night felt familiar, but familiar in a good way, like floating down a river you've been on many times before.
When it comes to playing the Rodeo, Paisley knows what he's doing.
Paisley runs across the dirt floor of the stadium with the greatest of ease, and knows exactly what parts of his songs that the 56,000-plus folks in attendance want to sing with. He knows how to position himself in front of a camera for maximum impact.
And so while it may not be a technically flawless show -- a wrong note here, a cracked voice there -- it's the exact type of show the people who paid good money want to see. They pay to chuckle along with the cute lyrics to "Ticks." They pay to grab their loved one just a little bit tighter during "Then" and it's big power ballad guitar solo. They pay to nod their head along to the lyrics of "This is County Music" because it describes the music they love so well.
If an indie or punk band wrote about indie or punk music the way that Paisley writes about country, we'd flat out say they were fetishizing their genre of choice. Yet when Paisley belts out "This is Country Music" or "Old Alabama" it comes off as perfectly natural; a bit silly if you don't have the emotional investment in the genre perhaps, but sincere and heartfelt.
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But for all the great tunes he kicked out, the highlight of the night was something that felt completely unique to the Rodeo experience. A lady, either in a moment of love, lust or inebriation, jumped over the barrier in front of her seat and on to the arena floor as Paisley was headed to her side of the stadium. Security moved in front of her to cut her off from reaching him, but he waved them off and gave her a hug. For a brief moment, she was the biggest star in the room.
And just like that she was off, over the barrier again and in to the dark of anonymity.
Brad Paisley may be a reliable rodeo headliner who knows what he's doing, but sometimes the most memorable moments are the ones you can't predict.
Personal Bias: Paisley was my gateway drug in to modern country. If you've ever caught me listening to Luke Bryan on Spotify, blame Brad.
The Crowd: Country lovers making the most of the chance to drink on a Tuesday night.
Overheard in the Crowd: "NO WALKING ON THE ESCALATOR! WE CAN SEE YOU!," said one security guard who took her job maybe just a bit too seriously.
Random Notebook Dump: The rodeo ran one of those "no recording allowed" messages before the show started, which is really cute in the smartphone age. I hope none of you put any of the show up on Instagram.
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