Bayou City

Thomas Rhett Displays Pop-Rooted Sound at RodeoHouston Debut

Thomas Rhett Displays Pop-Rooted Sound at RodeoHouston Debut
Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Thomas Rhett
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
March 15, 2017

Clad in a Ramones jacket, a long white T-shirt and distressed jeans, Thomas Rhett looked more like a pop star than a country artist at his first Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo performance. Luckily, the show incorporated enough steel guitar and twangy vocals to offset the singer-songwriter’s fashion faux pas.

Be warned, though, young man: Next go-round, we expect to see some (real) boots.

Wednesday night, the Georgia native introduced himself with a blend of pop, country and a bit of funk, making for quite the splashy RodeoHouston debut. Rhett displayed a style of country rooted in pop music, not unlike his labelmate Taylor Swift’s earlier work. If Wednesday night was any indication, he too might eventually use the country genre as a jumping-off point. Until then…

"This is a lifelong dream of mine," Rhett told the announced crowd of 73,300. "Thank you for having me. I'm living a dream right now."

Rhett serenaded the crowd with songs about craving love, shaking butts, liquored-up coconut water and his undying love for his wife and children. He even found time in his short set to share the spotlight with a hometown artist.

click to enlarge Danielle Bradbery (left) and Rhett - PHOTO COURTESY OF HOUSTON LIVESTOCK SHOW AND RODEO
Danielle Bradbery (left) and Rhett
Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Rhett brought Danielle Bradbery, the Cypress native who won The Voice in 2013, onstage for “Playing With Fire,” a sweet ballad about turbulent love. Though her presence was brief, she managed to steal the show in the short time onstage.

During "Vacation," Rhett jumped off the stage for his inaugural trek through the dirt at NRG Stadium. He hugged a young woman in the crowd who, in her excitement, spilled her drink onto the ground. But her happiness couldn’t be defeated, and she managed to laugh it off.

Near the end of the show, Rhett spoke of his wife and children. He then performed the most authentic song of the evening, “Die a Happy Man,” which he dedicated to all the married couples in attendance. Ad-libbing the final verse, Rhett sang that he would die a happy man if the Houston rodeo was the last show he ever played.

The show concluded with a cover of Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic,” making for a celebratory finale. My first thought was that it would have made better sense for Rhett to perform a cover earlier in his set and end with original material, but I reminded myself that it was his first performance.

He’ll get there.


Crash & Burn
South Side
Get Me Some of That
Craving You
Star of the Show
American Spirit
Playing With Fire (feat. Danielle Bradbery)
It Goes Like This
Make Me Wanna
Die A Happy Man
24K Magic (Bruno Mars cover)
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Matt is a regular contributor to the Houston Press’ music section. He graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in print journalism and global business. Matt first began writing for the Press as an intern, having accidentally sent his resume to the publication's music editor instead of the news chief. After half a decade of attending concerts and interviewing musicians, he has credited this fortuitous mistake to divine intervention.
Contact: Matthew Keever