Luke Bryan Reliant Stadium March 16, 2013
Sorry, Kenny Chesney, but we're through. I've found myself another cowboy, and this one's a little dirtier and a little more ass-shaky. In other words, he's a man after my own heart.
Luke Bryan closed out the rodeo portion of RodeoHouston Saturday night, red solo cup in hand, with a crowd of over 75,000 in attendance. He managed to best Blake Shelton on crowd size, and yes, as you can imagine, most of that crowd consisted of women. Well, Bryan didn't disappoint.
Solidifying his frat-boy country persona, Bryan spent the hour purring and dirty-shimmying while relentlessly flirting with the crowd while clad in a backwards baseball cap and skin-tight jeans. In theory, none of it should have fit, but it all worked quite perfectly. I was completely perplexed (and impressed).
Launching into his first number, "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye," it took Bryan, oh, about 12 good seconds before he turned around and shook his ass at the women in the audience while teasing the girls with a dare to rest their head in his bed. Not terribly insightful, but does it need to be? I mean, the guy is best known for enticing country girls to shake it for him. He plays a role, and he plays it well. Trust me.
I almost fell out of my seat when he began purring like a kitten throughout "Country Man." I've literally never seen someone do that in concert, and as cheesy as it sounds (and hell yes, it was super cheesy), his fans ate it up. The swooning and screeching from the audience made that quite clear.
It wasn't all purring and gyrating, though. Bryan's voice was clear and strong, and he out-performed most of the shows I've seen at the rodeo this season, hitting every note while having an improvised dance contest with the audience. I'm not sure how, given the fact that the man never stops moving, but he did.
Energy poured from every number; Bryan obviously knows what his target audience is, and he gives them every ounce of what they're looking for. There's no prolonged slow set for this guy; he's all business when it comes to flirting and partying during his songs. That red solo cup kept appearing, and I kept wishing I was at a damned party out in the country somewhere. (What in the world is the rodeo brainwashing me with? This needs to stop.)
When Bryan launched into "Drunk on You," his slower (but yet still somehow completely rowdy) number about a girl making his speakers go boom-boom, the crowd roared in approval and sang along, with Bryan obviously delighted at the moment. It was pretty stinkin' cute, if you ask me. I even forgave the shoutout to Jason Aldean during that moment.
The only iffy moment was when Bryan covered Metallica's "Enter Sandman." I didn't hate it, but he's a better singer and performer than what happened there. It was a strange mash-up of country mouse meets city mouse, and it didn't work.
It's got to be difficult to cross genres like that, but Bryan's version of country is inflected with rock undertones, so it should have played out better than it did. Despite my feelings about it, it seemed to make the audience happy. (Although let's be fair here: Bryan could do no wrong with that audience.)
A stand-out moment came at the close of his set, when Bryan launched into "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)" and proceeded to run the entire length of the stadium while flirting and (of course) shakin' it with all the country girls who were lucky enough to be down on the floor. I, unfortunately, was not so lucky, but I lived vicariously through them.
The song went on for quite a while, as you'd imagine considering the fact that the stadium is meant for football games -- I was impressed that he managed to get through that jaunt without passing the hell out -- but Bryan interacted and danced with everyone he could before riding off into the sunset, red solo cup in hand.
Seemed our Texas girls were happy to take on that Georgia boy for the second time at RodeoHouston, and for good reason. How could anyone say no to purring?
Personal Bias: We all know my affinity for ass-shaking by now; do I even need to say it?
The Crowd: Young'uns, mostly. Lots of chicks, as usual.
Overheard in the Crowd: "He needs a cowboy hat, though!" (Agreed.)
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Random Notebook Dump: Waving forlornly at RodeoHouston as it packs up for the season. Until next year, y'all!