Lady Antebellum Reliant Stadium March 11, 2011
Less than a month after winning five Grammys, Lady Antebellum made their way to Houston for another stint at the Rodeo. Having been forced to listen to "Need You Now" countless times over the past year - half a dozen times at the Grammys, every other time we scrolled through our radio presets and never mind all the times we heard it while sitting at coffee shops around town - Aftermath wasn't exactly looking forward to hearing what we assumed would be the band's big finale. But otherwise, we were ready to boot-scoot another Rodeo.
Hell, we even wore a Future Farmers of America shirt. At the Rodeo, that's the equivalent of having an "I Support Our Troops" bumper sticker. People respect it and rarely ask questions... which is a good thing, because our knowledge of FFA is pretty limited.
As Lady Antebellum took the stage - in spite of taking what felt like forever to exit the truck that drove them there - the crowd screamed, and the night's musical entertainment began.
"I want to know how 70 thousand people in a stadium sound," said co-lead vocalist Charles Kelley as the crowd howled. "And I want to dedicate this next one to anyone who's got a good woman or a good man."
A charming, leisurely ballad about the love of growing up in the country, "American Honey," followed. Then Lady Antebellum switched gears and got the crowd back into a two-stepping mood with "Love's Looking Good on You," during which Kelley and Hillary Scott stared lovingly into each other's eyes while pretending to flirt onstage.
It's kind of like in rap music videos when female vocalists rub their backsides against the rapper whose song they are being featured in... except with flannel shirts and minus the whole backside-rubbing thing.
During last year's performance, we remember Scott's voice making Kelley's sound minute by comparison, but this time, it seemed the other way around. While Kelley's vocals were strong and raspy - minus missing a note or two here and there, it was a solid performance - Scott's voice just wasn't as strong as it often needed to be.
That is, until "Just a Kiss," the most intimate song of the evening, during which the entire band took a break while Kelley and Scott took to bar stools at the front of the rotating stage, serenading and cooing to one another while, behind them, Dave Haywood sat at a bright red piano, which drew a sharp contrast to the blue light illuminating the stage.
As the next song, "Hello World," began to crescendo, the band quietly began to play again, almost unnoticeably. Just as it all built to a climax, every instrument stopped abruptly for a brief moment as a burst of white light lit up Reliant Arena, and every instrument began to play again, this time at full volume.
But for how many people were in attendance - more than 70,000 - it seemed as though a good portion of them couldn't have cared less about Lady Antebellum as a whole, but were solely interested in hearing "Need You Now." Which, in spite of its numerous Grammys, is really just a glorified song about a booty call.
It's a quarter after 1 (a.m.); I'm all alone, and I need you now
I said I wouldn't call, but I'm a little drunk, and I need you now
Aftermath needs to write some raunchy love songs that sound super-sweet. Apparently, that's the ticket to stardom and the hearts of millions of fans.
No one seemed to care that, after "Need You Now," the band had another song to play, because there was a mass exodus of fans from their seats. Before the members of Lady Antebellum had made it halfway through their last song, half the stadium was gone.
Next time, they should save their best for last.
Personal Bias: Lady A is good, but five-Grammys good? Ehhhh...
Overheard In the Crowd: Lots of screaming during "Need You Now" and a lot of talking during most of the other songs.
Random Notebook Dump: We have made a bet with ourselves on how much weight we'll gain by the end of this year's Rodeo... anyone else doing the same?
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.