The Band Perry Reliant Stadium March 13, 2013
Was anyone else as confused as I was on Saturday night with the Band Perry's concert at RodeoHouston?
On paper, the Band Perry should be a fantastic live act to see. They're a wholesome, family-friendly group, perfect for what the rodeo tries to achieve. Kimberly Perry is on lead vocals, and she's backed by her two brothers Neil and Reed, all well-manicured and well-mannered. They're the epitome of this whole "new country" trend, with lots of leather and a rock-inspired sound.
The band also has a couple of really large hits under their belts -- "Better Dig Two" and "If I Die Young" have both seen major commercial success. Not only that, but as evidenced by the 71,000 or so fans who spilled into Reliant Stadium, the band already has a large following, despite having put out only one album so far.
So given all the pluses to the band, I expected to be met with a pretty decent country act, even if they sound slightly obsessed with death on their two big hits. That is not what I found, however.
Saturday night's concert was a struggle for both the band and the audience, as we all toughed out a vocally challenged set filled with cover songs that were too big for the band's collective britches.
They opened up the show by belting out their new song "Done" with a mix of fervor and Southern charm, so things started off relatively well (albeit quietly; I've never seen a crowd so apathetic). I could even see where Kimberly normally shines as the lead vocals for the band.
She's darling, with a mess of blond hair and a true enthusiasm for the stage, and her brothers play into the antics well. Despite that enthusiasm, her vocals were really off, and her twangy pitch never recovered unless she was shouting some anthem-y slogan into the mike (which she did, quite often).
There was tons of cutesy choreography between the trio, but Kimberly, Reed and Neil really struggled to wake up the crowd. Maybe we were all suffering from a collective overdose of tryptophan from those damned turkey legs, or perhaps we were underwhelmed by the wavering, off-key warbling of Kimberly's voice, but whatever the cause, everyone stayed glued to their seats.
As they played out their contracted hour, the Band Perry covered a lot of massive hits -- those massive hits just weren't their own. From ill-advised covers of Whitney Houston's power ballad "I Will Always Love You" to The Lumineers' "Ho, Hey" and Queen's "Fat Bottom Girls," the entire concert seemed to be one Glee mash-up after another.
I'm confused as to why a band so green around the gills would even attempt to undertake a freaking Whitney Houston ballad or a Freddie Mercury tune. Yes, I'm well aware that Dolly Parton penned Houston's tune, but despite its being written by a country legend, the song was a dangerous proposal to the crowd. Judging by the overall apathy of the audience, it backfired.
Perry even made a rock-bottom attempt at fun.'s "Some Nights," during which I became keenly aware I can indeed like that song less when it is in country form. It was an overdose of cover songs, and most of them seemed forced and trite.
There were a couple of moments where I understood what was happening, but I spent the majority of my concertgoing experience confused. The band made an A-plus attempt at The Lumineers, and the folksy singalong style of "Ho, Hey" made perfect sense for a band like Perry to tackle, since there's not a huge vocal styling to it.
Unfortunately, despite a couple of pretty interesting moments, the crowd's overall "meh" reaction remained in full force until the Perrys launched into their massive radio hit "If I Die Young," a song about the unfortunate circumstances of -- you guessed it -- dying young. Ironically, it was the only time that I saw any life from the crowd, as they roared in approval at the song choice.
They closed with "Better Dig Two," a better song choice given that it's in their vocal range and their musical styling and the fact that it's, oh, their song, but the stadium had already begun to clear out well before that point. I think we'd all had our fill of the largest cover-band concert known to man. Things would have been difficult to redeem, even with their playing the better of their two hits.
The Band Perry showed some real promise, despite the disastrous underpinnings of Saturday's concert, so I'm going to chalk the weirdness up to poor song choices and a really shoddy sound system. I know they were really well received at the 2012 rodeo, and I'm sure they'll be back next year, full of cutesy country energy and silly choreography.
Hopefully they'll stick to their own stuff next time, 'cause that's where they shine.
Personal Bias: I've spent the last two rodeo concerts circling the entire stadium (twice) looking for the press box, so I wasn't in the best of moods by the time I found my seat. I've said it before; I hate working out.
The Crowd: Lots of mid-twenties country fans; I saw lots of skirts 'n' cowboy boots. (Aren't y'all freezing when the sun goes down?)
Overheard in the Crowd: "If I'd wanted to pay for a cover band, it wouldn't have been at the rodeo."
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Random Notebook Dump: I'd like to think that's my abs that hurt from my jaunt up and down the stairs at the stadium, but in all reality, I think it might be my liver. Thanks, heavy-handed rodeo bartenders!