Electric Rodeo

The Most Intriguing Concerts of RodeoHouston 2017

Blink 182 at NRG Stadium is a real thing that's going to happen.
Blink 182 at NRG Stadium is a real thing that's going to happen. Violeta Alvarez
There’s something delightfully old-school about the way RodeoHouston handles its business. There’s no secret winter blind presales. There’s no tweet of a poster with some names bigger than others on it. There’s a lineup in the middle of the night and then you buy your tickets the next Saturday. They’ve got their system, and it works.

Knowing their system extends to building their lineup as well. There is a backbone to the lineup of favorites, old and less so, known quantities guaranteed to bring in the crowds. These performers — this year think Alan Jackson, Luke Bryan and ZZ Top — aren’t going to make any dramatic changes to what they do, and that’s just fine. They know what brought them to the dance, and they’re not going to change things up dramatically.

And because the Rodeo has these artists they can count on, they can fill up some of the other spots with options that are less traditional. From pop flavors of the month to rising country stars, these names on the lineup are the ones give fans an extra jolt of excitement. Does their booking say something about the state of music? Does their name on the lineup represent a change to Rodeo Houston? And most importantly, will they be able to deliver on the big stage?

Chris Stapleton is having a pretty good last two years. A critical darling, he’s already got multiple CMA and Grammy Awards to his name, and it seems that anyone even tangentially interested in country music has been singing his praises and waiting for their chance to see him live. As a songwriter he’s one of the best around, and the songs he’s written for other artists means his words have been a part of the Rodeo for years ahead of his debut performance on March 9. You’ve got to think that this is the start of a beautiful relationship between Stapleton and the Rodeo if this first performance goes well.

Oh, how far we’ve come since “#Selfie” was released back in 2014. Flash forward to today and it’s easy to forget that original hit that got The Chainsmokers some of their earliest attention. Thanks to their collaborations with Daya and Halsey, they’re suddenly among the biggest names in dance music, on the verge of becoming true pop sensations. For years there have been those among us who have wondered what an EDM-styled Rodeo show would look like, and you’ve got to think that if all goes well here we’ll be seeing more names from that world bringing their music to NRG Stadium.

One can only wonder if Fifth Harmony signed on for their RodeoHouston debut before or after Camila Cabello decided to leave the group. Either way, Houston fans of the pop group will get their first look at their current lineup when they hit the rotating stage. For the past two years the band has been making their moves up the charts and into bigger venues, and the Rodeo will make one of their biggest here in the U.S. Will things work for the group as a foursome? We’ll find out.

Yes, it is funny that this gig was listed as “alternative pop” on the genre calendar, but “pop-punk” might have tipped the Rodeo’s hand a bit too much. Now that Fall Out Boy have proved that the poppier side of pop-punk can be a blast at the Rodeo, it was only a matter of time before a bigger band got the nod. Does this mean that eventually we’ll be seeing Green Day on the Rodeo stage? One can only hope. When you build your time machine, go back to the start of 2016 and bet someone money that Matt Skiba will play RodeoHouston one day. No one will believe you.

Brad Paisley, admittedly, should probably be filed under “known quantity,” but he makes this list for two reasons. The first is last year’s show, where he proved that even though he’s a Rodeo vet he still has a trick or two up his sleeve; bringing out and sharing the stage with Larry and Rudy Gatlin was magic, the kind of thing that only someone as effortlessly cool and confident as Paisley could pull off. It was a selfless move, and one that opens the door for who knows what in his future performances. The other reason he makes this list is because he’s playing the final Saturday of the Rodeo, and as a man who has pulled in a 75,000+ crowd in the past, it’ll be interesting to see if he can get another show on that top attendance list. At least the music will be good for sure.
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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