The Fans Help Jason Aldean Rally Late at RodeoHouston

Jason Aldean in one of his more lively moments.
Jason Aldean in one of his more lively moments. Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
Jason Aldean
NRG Stadium
March 6, 2K18

Because this is the United States 2018 and not ancient Rome, I must admit I’ve never been one for portents, but after last night’s RodeoHouston performance maybe I should be. It was a night of extremes before Jason Aldean hit the stage, and maybe that should have been a sign of what was to come. Calves who refused to be tied down, bulls who tried to jump out of their pens and sheep that refused to be ridden were just some of the weirdness that abounded as the night marched toward Aldean’s performance.

Far as I can tell, Jason Aldean has not performed a full concert in 2018, and it shows. Tuesday night’s featured struggled with low energy for most of the show, as if he was battling some stage rust that he couldn’t quite shake off. It’s not that he sounded bad, mind you, he just felt disconnected from the big stage, impressive lights and solid playing going on around him. You could feel the potential for something special there, but it was, for whatever reason, out of his grasp.

Good for him, then, that his fans are so loud and passionate. They had his back from the moment he appeared on stage until he waved goodbye as he was driven out of the stadium at the end of the night. They sang loud when requested, and were always there with an appreciative cheer whenever he talked into the mike.

Near the end of the night, things did finally start to come together, and once it did it was a pretty good show. Aldean works at the Rodeo because he’s not afraid to really lean into the rock side of his sound, which fills up the space nicely in a setting the size of NRG Stadium; seriously, more Rodeo artists need to turn up those electric guitars and have some fun with distortion.

By the end of the night, Aldean was running around the stage, fully engaged with what was going on around him. I like to think that it was because the fans were giving so much they willed the show into something good in the end. RodeoHouston feels like the type of place where something like that could happen, but maybe I’m just reading too much into the bucking of bulls and the temperament of sheep.

Personal Bias: As far as I know, up until tonight I had never heard a single Jason Aldean song.

The Crowd: Even though the crowd only maxed out at 57,351, this was actually one of the loudest RodeoHouston crowds I’d ever heard. I dare say they were so enthusiastic they gave the Garth Brooks fans a run for their money. Make your own jokes about quantity versus quality.

Mutton Bustin’ Update, Day 8: Probably the most disappointing night of sheep riding I’ve ever seen. If you were at RodeoHouston and this was your first exposure to mutton bustin’, I promise you that it is typically more entertaining than this. For whatever reason, the mutton were extra slippery tonight, and at one point something like six riders in a row fell down as soon as they left the chute. At least tonight’s winner managed to be adorable and hilarious in victory, somewhat redeeming things.

Random Notebook Dump: The other night I popped into my local H-E-B to pick up a few things and I noticed that they were selling RodeoHouston merch. At first, this made sense to me, because it’s H-E-B and they love all things Texas. But then I got to thinking about it and… isn’t it kind of weird that Kroger is one of the big RodeoHouston sponsors? Not bad, mind you, it’s just when I think “Texas grocery store” I think H-E-B.
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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