Alessia Cara Stays in Her Lane For a Fine RodeoHouston Performance

Alessia Cara did things her way at her first RodeoHouston performance.
Alessia Cara did things her way at her first RodeoHouston performance. Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
Alessia Cara
NRG Stadium
March 4, 2K18

Sunday evening's RodeoHouston performance did not end with the star of the night riding in the back of a pickup truck past her adoring fans and into the Texas night. While I’m sure it’s happened before, I can’t recall anyone ever skipping that piece of RodeoHouston theater, and while it wasn’t a bad thing, it was a weird thing. Part of the reason the crowd is asked to give it up at the end of the night as the performer leaves the stage is because they’re really still there to bask in the glow of tens of thousands of excited fans.

But in a way, skipping that truck ride in favor of simply getting into an SUV and calling it a night made perfect sense of Alessia Cara. Not because she has songs about introversion, but because leading up to the end of the night, nothing about Cara’s performance had screamed “RodeoHouston.” There were no backup dancers or fancy pyrotechnics or massive band or costume changes. She simply took the show that she might perform in front of a crowd 1/10th of the size of the crowd of NRG Stadium and did it on a stage that rotates.

It’s a good show, and one that not many performers her age and at her stage in their career could pull off. Her debut album Know-It-All is full of bangers, and with the addition of her collaboration with Zedd and “How Far I’ll Go” she’s got an hour of solid material to work with. She’s a great vocalist and has an engaging personality, and I would struggle to find fault with anything that happened from the moment to hit the stage to the moment she exited it.

That it didn’t really feel like a RodeoHouston performance isn’t the worst thing in the world. People may — as was the case with Leon Bridges — use the number of tickets sold in relation to previous first Rodeo Sundays as a notch against her, but I like to think of her booking as the Rodeo giving artists a shot based on meritocracy rather than the ability to move tickets. Better Leon and Alessia than Florida Georgia Line any day.

Personal Bias: I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating here: “Scars to Your Beautiful” is the best version of the “love yourself for who you are” anthems that have popped up over the last decade; seriously, go listen to “Born This Way” and note how dated it sounds now while “Scars to Your Beautiful” is going to stand the test of time. #hottake

The Crowd: 61,269 strong, being mostly a mix of parents with either hip teens hoping to hear “Here” and “Stay” or tiny people wanting to hear the songs from the Moana soundtrack.

Mutton Bustin’ Update, Day 6: Very much a “sheep in command” day, as none of the kids broke the 90 point barrier and you could count on one hand the number of them who had good showings. Tonight was the first time I'd seen a repeat champion — he was rocking the belt buckle he won last year — and the first time I’ve seen a kid — who, I might add, says he wants to be an Aggie baseball player when he grows up — so thoroughly unimpressed by meeting a baseball hall of famer (Craig Biggio was on hand to show off the World Series trophy).

Random Notebook Dump: I get why it happens the way it happens, and that I’m mostly projecting capitalism onto what should be the most wholesome part of the day, but it does feel weird to me that after the national anthem the announcers thank the sponsors that make it happen. Like, it’s weird that you can sponsor the national anthem, you know?
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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia