Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
March 6, 2016
Ten seconds after Shawn Mendes hopped onto the revolving RodeoHouston stage, I realized that I had picked the wrong show to forget my hearing protection. Fresh off his opening run on Taylor Swift's 1989 World Tour, the baby-faced Canadian is still trying to come to terms with his stardom.
"You guys sound so good! I'm still trying to get used to that!" he told the crowd after the first few deafening cheers and applause. Mendes did seem a bit nervous and overwhelmed at the onset of his RodeoHouston debut. He acknowledged that playing in front of 70,000-plus fans by himself, armed only with an acoustic guitar, was not an easy task. But the viral-video sensation turned pop star certainly held his own and rocked NRG Stadium on a beautiful Sunday evening.
Mendes then proceeded to provide a show that was not only positive and entertaining but downright motivating as well. Sure, songs about love and heartbreak filled his set list, but that was complemented by stories of living life to the fullest, being confident and having fun. His opening track, "Life Of The Party," summarizes this notion completely. "We don't have the time to be sorry, so baby, be the life of the party," he croons.
"This is my first Rodeo!" he told the immense crowd. "I love it here in Texas!" By that point, Mendes was in complete control. Requests for cell phone lights to call/response singalongs to rhythmic clapping were all joyously granted by the thousands of fans in the building.
The track that stood out was "Don't Know Your Name," which tells the story of a girl-of-your-dreams type who fills Mendes's thoughts after he continually searches for her after a missed connection. The song showcases many aspects of why he is such a refreshing artist, providing fun music with flair and honesty. He proceeded to follow that song with a rousing cover of Ed Sheeran's "Living Out Loud," much to the crowd's delight.
By this time, the fans were primed and ready to hear his most popular hit, "Stitches." Once those opening notes on the guitar were plucked, another deafening applause transitioned into the largest karaoke slash flash-mob dance party I've ever seen. As I made my way toward the exit to beat the crowd, I could see everyone in the stands jumping, teenagers holding invisible microphones up to their mouths singing out loud, and concession stand vendors dancing to the beat.
We were all the life of the party, even if only for an hour or so.
VIDEO: MENDES SURPRISES TWO LUCKY FANS BACKSTAGE
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Video courtesy Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens toward the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond. You can follow his adventures on Instagram: @MarcoFromHouston.