World's Championship Bar-B-Q Contest
February 27, 2016
If you have been lucky enough to be in Texas for the Houston rodeo, then you already know that the concerts during the World's Championship Bar-B-Q are outside, with a big stage and no seating. If you are familiar with Shakespeare and “the groundlings,” well then, here is your big chance to figure out what that feels like.
Saturday, I got there early, bought a bunch of drink tickets to give to tall guys so they'd move out of my way, and wound up about three people away from the front. I was excited about opener Cory Morrow, because he is a Texas musician from H-town who lives in Austin, and has a long association with Green (they sang “Texas on my Mind” together). He might be considered part of the “Red Dirt” scene although he isn’t uber-twangy or anything; alas, he sounded kind of rough, and stopped singing early because he was sick and his voice was giving out. He is performing in Tomball in March, though.
Pat Green’s team scrambles and I love that he just steps up early and all and opens saying “Ain’t no time to waste!” to a crowd that is, except for me, pretty much wasted. Pat Green, forget the music for just one second, is very funny, has great comic timing, and we are really lucky that some miniseries or sitcom like Reba hasn’t picked him up and such. But we can’t let that happen, because we need him writing songs, performing, and hanging out with Sheryl Crow and Lyle Lovett. You know I’m right about this. In any case, Green knows how to work the crowd, but other artists should not try and imitate him, because he is being himself, so you can’t copy that. Don’t even try.
Green opened with a favorite: “Carry On,” a perfect choice because I am also “a little tired of the city” and “billboards” have indeed gotten me down. That is exactly why I listen to Pat Green — to get away from all that, have a good time and not think I have wasted my precious minutes on this earth on dopey thug country; or twangier-than-thou little-girl complaint country-music; or, heaven forbid, country rap, which should be forbidden. Green fans know he will never let you down in that cruel and mocking way like Tim McGraw and his ilk. See? I can barely even type their names.
I had forgotten how fun it is to watch Green rock out on his guitar(s). I think we should all have a moment to remember his timely reminder to the crowd that his band — which is excellent, especially his guitarists and keyboardist — sold out the Astrodome. You can’t say that about every band you meet. Before “Three Days,” Green quipped, “we were nominated for two Grammys for this song, and we lost both of them!” That's still a great song, and Green sounded really good, his voice as bluesy or lighthearted or as ironic as it needed to be for every number. He sent “Let Me” “for the girls,” and fine by me — all I have to do is “follow”? Great; just tell me where to go. If someone plays this song for you, ladies, don't break up with them. Just sayin.’
Luckily, he played “Baby Doll.” I love that song because Green makes fun of girls sometimes, like for instance the one girl in the audience who he joked didn’t know Bryan Adams’s “Cuts Like a Knife” that he tries to employ in a crowd sing-along, but that kind of failed just because I think the audience had slipped onto the Miller Lite remedial track. Pat: That is so not your fault. The real Pat Green loves his wife (an attorney, no less), loves women (he is Texan) and knows real women can take a joke and not get all chronically cranky and offended.
Other highlights of the evening included the trio of guitarists sitting onstage with Green in the middle and playing acoustics a bit; a primal scream at the mike from Green; singing his duet with Lyle Lovett as “Girls from Houston are a little bit better” instead of “Girls from Texas” (Nice!); and his little ad-libs, because they're completely entertaining and that is why we're here, amirite? The Dancehall Song was great because Green really camped it up on "Take Me Out to the Dancehall," but also slipped into more serious songs like Zane Williams’s "While I Was Away,” which goes “For every dollar I earn there’s a lesson you learn without me there.” While I love that song, I also hate it because it makes me feel like a bad mother. But there's a whole genre of guilt music, and some of it is great.
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The thing about a Pat Green concert is that you know he is having a great time, and it is infectious. He told the audience, “If you can GIT this job, GIT IT! It’s fun!” Truer words were never spoken. So, to summarize, Pat Green is an artist who: 1) will sing Joe Ely songs; 2) will make fun of himself, as in “I shaved my beard, and I look fatter!”; 3) will sing songs that you never get sick of, like “Don’t Break My Heart Again”; and 4) has a signature song that will never leave your pantheon of favorites. As in, long may “Wave on Wave” wave.
Apart from some unruly neighbors, my only regret from Saturday was that Green did not sing my favorite song from his last CD, Home — the Sheryl Crow duet “Right Now” — but maybe my editor will run that video for your listening pleasure. [Why not? — ed.] And, if your life is all off track and you missed him Saturday, he’ll be at the Redneck Country Club in Stafford in April.
I have seen Pat Green three times in the past year: in Galveston in a big theater; at a Cactus Music in-store; and then amid the cookoff chaos, where a bunch of other bands all over the grounds were distracting drunks from their drinking and such. And guess what? Green was his awesome, have-a-good-time-with-Texas-music self. Honestly, these new acts have a lot to learn from him about how to put on a show that makes you know it was worth the price of the ticket, didn’t put you on or let you down, and made you leave wanting more.