What started as a discussion of a possible lineup turned into a permanent one as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo announced the entertainment roster for its 2019 edition of RodeoHouston.
Speculation about what acts would make an appearance onstage at the largest annual music spectacle in Houston was rampant following a leaked photo of performers and dates below a RodeoHouston masthead went viral online in mid-to-late December.
While it tampered the surprise when the performers were officially announced, it made up with a large amount of advance buzz. It created weeks of discussion online and palpable excitement for the 2019 season, which runs from February 25 to March 17.
We’re here to tell you: the leaked lineup was legit. Organizers announced the set schedule at a well-attended event for media and VIPs at a beautifully executed event included a smorgasbord of delicious offerings from Killen’s Barbecue in the Director’s Club of NRG Stadium overlooking the Texans field ahead of the team’s playoff game.
The roll call of entertainers is one of the most diverse in years, if not ever, much like the 2017 edition. It’s still heavily focused on country music, with 13 nights dedicated to boot scootin’ boogie, but many genres will be represented, including pop, rock, classic rock, hip-hop, EDM, and Latino each getting their night to shine.
“The thinking was when you really look at our community from a demographic point of view, an organization like ours, with an event like ours, has got to reflect that diversity,” Jason Kane, managing director of entertainment for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, tells CultureMap. “We’re the most diverse community in the United States now, more diverse than L.A. — we have to present artists that people want to see from all different genres. There was a day when everything was exclusively country, but that’s not the face of Houston.”
The most talked about performer on the bill came in the form of arguably the most popular rapper of 2018, Cardi B, who will hit the stage on Black Heritage Day on Friday, March 1. It’s a strong move following the criticism levied at organizers controversy when they slated Leon Bridges in the annual hip-hop/R&B themed slot last year.
“I still believe Leon Bridges is an absolute star and he’s going to enjoy a long, prosperous career,” Kane says. “But I have to listen to what the community is saying, and they are saying, ‘You have to reflect real hip-hop.’ So I’ll go and find the best of the genre and bring them here. I’m so excited about Cardi B and that kind of energy on the new stage.”
Of the country acts, opening night will feature one of the biggest stars right now in Kacey Musgraves, whose fantastic album, Golden Hour, is cleaning up on the awards circuit. Previously announced legend George Strait will close out the proceedings on March 17, bringing along fellow Texas troubadours Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen.
Other country performers include beloved country duo Brooks & Dunn on February 27, their first appearance since 2010. Luke Bryan makes his eighth appearance in a row on February 28. RodeoHouston country first-timers include Turnpike Troubadours (March 2), Old Dominion (March 4), Luke Combs (March 6), and Kane Brown (March 9).
Middle-aged heartthrob Tim McGraw makes his ninth appearance on March 7. Zach Brown Band will play their third RodeoHouston show in a row, eighth overall, on March 11. Raspy-voiced and bearded, old school crooner, Chris Stapleton (March 14), and fan favorite Cody Johnson (March 15), are both back for their third year in a row. Nationwide Insurance pitchman Brad Paisley returns for his 13th(!) year on the rotating stage on March 16, hopefully with buddy Peyton Manning in tow.
EDM makes a comeback, following the successful 2017 experiment when Chainsmokers turned NRG into a massive warehouse party. Global superstar DJ Zedd will bring the beats on Friday, March 8. Get the glow sticks and glitter ready.
Rock will be represented by emo group, Panic! at the Disco on March 3, “Sex on Fire” rock act Kings of Leon on March 12, and classic rock guitar virtuouso Santana on March 13.
Pop night will be ruled by former X Factor star Camila Cabello on March 5. Latin stars will appear in the form of Latin pop/bachata singer-songwriter Prince Royce on February 26, and Mexican norteño stars, Los Tigres del Norte on Sunday, March 10 for Go Tejano Day.
“One of the things we get great joy out of is when new people show up,” Kane says. “They come and see what we’re doing, they’ve heard about the rodeo, and then they get to see it for the first time because we’ve attracted them with a Panic! at the Disco or Cardi B. They go ‘Wow,’ and they end up joining the family, bringing their kids, and it becomes an annual thing.”
Tickets go on sale Thursday, January 10 at 10 am at rodeohouston.com. The online waiting room will open at 9:30 am; customers in the waiting room will be randomly selected to enter the store to purchase tickets at 10 am, RodeoHouston said in a statement.