Since this is my last appearance at the 2014 RodeoHouston season in our rotating lineup of reviewers, I'm going to let you folks in on a shameful secret I have been keeping all month long; I have been poaching empty seats in section 106. I do it as a way of embedding myself in the audience and gauging the mood of the crowd, and I have never felt guilty about it because I've never been asked to move. Someone's got to sit there, right?
Gearing up for Florida Georgia Line tonight, I was asked to move. A lot. I moved five times total, and ended up watching the sold out concert from the standing room only section where I still got asked to moved.
For 11 high-energy songs, singers Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley played Reliant Stadium like it was the most important show of their career.
Clearly, a special sort of chemistry between the paying audience of nearly 75,000 and the American Country pop duo was in the works.
For 11 high-energy songs, singers Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley played Reliant Stadium like it was the most important show of their career. It doesn't matter that songs like opener "It's Just What We Do" and hillbilly anthem "People Back Home" sound like Kid Rock knock-offs the more you spend time with them, or that rodeo purists like me would usually cringe at the thought of cutting up a vintage George Strait tour T-shirt like into spring break tank top chic — what matters is that the guys in this band absolutely sold the hell out of this show to the audience of 74,880.
Hubbard and Kelley proved to Houston that a rodeo performance is something that only gets better the more you own it, and they clearly want the headliner spot next year.
It took less than two songs for entire sections of Reliant Stadium to get on their feet and rise for a standing ovation during the introduction to "Party People," then remain out of their seats throughout the set. Cell phones served as tech-age lighters during "Shine On," and what I estimate as roughly 500 smart phone photos a minute were uploaded to the Internet during the frequent photo opps that Hubbard and Kelley gave fans in the dirt and on the rails. Everything about this show added up to that rare occasion when light, sound, and movement on such a large scale work together to create a universal energy felt by all in the immediate vicinity.
"This isn't a country thing. This is a damn Houston thing."
The guys in the band seemed genuinely humbled by this reception throughout the show, telling Houstonians and traveling rodeo attendees that this was the biggest show they've ever played. "This isn't a country thing. This is a damn Houston thing," marveled Hubbard before diving into "Round Here," the group's third consecutive single to make it to Billboard's Country Airplay chart. Nothing seemed scripted, and the group would have no doubt played until midnight if they could.
How appropriate that Florida Georgia's high energy show capped off a night that saw Colorado Bull Rider Tyler Smith tie the RodeoHouston bull riding record with a 94, a calf scrambler incur a bloody nose after wrestling an extra wily calf, and one of the closest endings to a chuck wagon race I've ever seen.
To all five of you in attendance who briefly felt wronged by me tactlessly trying to poach your seat, I'm happy that you kicked me out and had a great place to enjoy the show. You deserve it. And besides, standing room only is the way to go on a night when nobody in the building would even dream of sitting down.
It's Just What We Do
Tell Me How You Like It
People Back Home
This Is How We Roll
I'm In A Hurry