11 Rodeo Concerts In, Brad Paisley Still Makes It Look Easy
Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

11 Rodeo Concerts In, Brad Paisley Still Makes It Look Easy

Brad Paisley
NRG Stadium
March 25, 2017

Let us, for now at least, table the politics of “I’m Still a Guy” to focus on the best moment of Brad Paisley’s 11th trip to RodeoHouston. It was during that song, which takes modern men to task, that Mr. Paisley, out in the dirt that makes up the floor of NRG Stadium, up close and personal with his fans, stopped in the middle of one of the verses to correct another gentlemen on the proper way to take a selfie. “Turn it around” or something along those lines is what he said, never missing a step and working himself back into the song proper.

So yeah, the guy might give “lotiony hands” some side eye, but even Brad Paisley knows enough about selfies to do a guy a solid with photography advice.

Sure, the moment was charming and funny, but it was also a shining example of Paisley’s comfort in front of his fans and his comfort performing at RodeoHouston. Yeah, plenty of folks have left the stage to make that walk near the people, but no one does it with the natural confidence and playfulness of Brad Paisley. It’s the difference between watching someone acknowledge his fans and someone interact with his fans; a lot of folks can do the former, but very few can do the latter well.

11 Rodeo Concerts In, Brad Paisley Still Makes It Look Easy (2)
Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Other than his new single, “Today,” and a cover of “Miles and Miles of Texas” (Asleep at the Wheel or Bob Wills tribute? You be the judge.), the set was familiar to anyone who has seen Paisley live in the last few years. Yes, that means he played in the neighborhood of 12 of the same songs that he played last year, but that’s okay; most of them still sound just as fresh and clever as they did the first (second, third, fourth and so on) time around.

Every RodeoHouston performance, after the grand entry and the national anthem, starts with a song called “Party With Your Boots On.” It’s not a bad little number, and it sets the stage for the night to come. The Rodeo is supposed to be a celebration, and that’s reflected in the talents who perform. Brad Paisley has his party songs, but unlike the Luke Bryans and Florida Georgia Lines or even the Chainsmokers of the world, there’s something about his party songs that feels real, if maybe slightly exaggerated. Those other artists, they feel like your broke friend faking it till they make it by making sure their Instagram always looks cool; Brad Paisley is like that cool dude who gets on Facebook to talk about his nice days just hanging out by the river. One of those two is way more likable.

I’ve said it once and I’ll repeat it here: Brad Paisley makes playing RodeoHouston look so easy. He’s just as comfortable onstage as he is in the dirt, just as comfortable with a guitar in his hand as he is with a cell phone. As the Rodeo comes to a close, like many of you I’ll be counting down to Garth, but I’m still hoping Brad shows up too.

11 Rodeo Concerts In, Brad Paisley Still Makes It Look Easy (3)
Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Personal Bias: Back in 2012, my roommate and I made our first trip to the Rodeo for a largely forgettable Train set and to see one of my roommate’s favorites, Mr. Brad Paisley. I’ve now seen the guy something like seven times. A couple of hours before the show, I leaned over to my roommate and mentioned that in a week we’d be married. Where does the time go?

The Crowd: 75,000 on the dot, which for some reason made me chuckle.

Overheard in the Crowd: “This, this right here is why I’m not bringing you back to the rodeo. This right here.” You can give your teen the most fringe-heavy boots in the world, but that won’t mean she won’t sulk as you walk to the carnival if she doesn’t want to go.

Random Notebook Dump: Brad Paisley did not in fact play any of his Nationwide jingles. I hear noted Houston music photographer Jack Gorman is crushed.

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