Y'all ready to kick up a little dust?”
With that, we’re off! It’s a sold-out Luke Bryan show and it’s Thursday night at the rodeo.
Bryan has been waiting all year for this, and so have 75,082 of you. The show marked the fifth time he has taken to the rotating stage to play for a RodeoHouston crowd, and wouldn’t you know, he just couldn’t help himself to all of that open space in the dirt around the floor of NRG stadium.
It took him the whole set to get down there, and he flexed and gyrated plenty on the stage, but you knew the walk in the dirt was coming as soon as you heard the first notes of “Country Girl (Shake it for Me),” didn’t you?
You also probably knew that a muted barroom ballad like 2013’s “Drink a Beer” is the perfect time to wave around your Samsungs and your iPhones like so many Zippos in the cavernous stadium, but did you expect Bryan to cease the moment and ask for every light in the building to be turned off, save the luminous glow of those smartphones?
How about this: I bet you didn’t see a tribute to George Strait, the undisputed King of the Rodeo, coming. I sure didn’t.
Although Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town typically performs “Home Alone Tonight” with Bryan, she and that group won’t be at RodeoHouston until March 18, so we were treated to a few lines of Strait’s “The Cowboy Rides Away” instead. Bold move for a young gun like Bryan, but the sold out crowd showed their approval with a deafening applause..
Thursday’s show was a series of moments just like these, illustrating why Bryan just earned his fourth spot on RodeoHouston’s top 20 all-time attendance list (this show is No. 10 on the all-time list; he also ranks in the No. 3, No. 11 and No. 19 spots).
Bryan, winner of both ACM and CMA’s 2015 Entertainer of the Year award, couldn’t have been more grateful to be among so many supportive fans, and he took plenty of opportunities to express his gratitude for everything that RodeoHouston has done for him. “I’d like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for selling this wonderful place out on a Thursday night,” Bryan exclaimed in the middle of the show, "Thank you so much, Rodeo, thank you."
Bryan continued to express his thanks through music, treating the crowd to a high spirited take on “Play It Again,” a tried and true chart topper from 2013’s Crash My Party.
Surveying the fans throughout the show from my seat up high in the press box, I rarely saw anyone sitting down. Hips were swaying and heads were nodding, all for the sake of a good time.
I wonder how long Bryan can sustain this love affair with Houston’s rodeo crowd? I can see this lasting a while, because the only thing more comfortable than Luke Bryan in NRG stadium are the thousands of fans shaking whatever they’ve got for him.
Rain is a Good Thing
Kick the Dust Up
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
I See You
Crash My Party
Play it Again
Strip it Down
Home Alone Tonight
Huntin', Fishin', and Lovin' Everyday
Drink a Beer
That's My Kinda Night
Country Girl (Shake it for Me)
I Don't Want This Night to End/I Can't Feel My Face (Weekend Cover)