True Grit
RodeoHouston 2011

Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles rocks the rodeo with radio remixes

Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles rocks the rodeo with radio remixes

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Jennifer Nettles Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup.com
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Nettles and Kristian Bush, right, rocked the rodeo Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup.com
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News_Sugarland_Jennifer Nettles_Kristian Bush_March 2011

I've always thought that Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles was the best dressed of country music's stars.

Thursday night was no different, as she took the stage at the Houston rodeo to perform in black skinny jeans tucked into flat black buckled (not cowboy) boots, a striped tank and a military-inspired vest.

Nettles broke into a set mixed equally with upbeat, poppy hits and ballads in which she was the clear star. She dominated the scene so much that I hardly paid attention to guitarist Kristian Bush, the other member of the country music duo.

The set list would have pleased new admirers and dated fans, with songs including recent hits "Stuck Like Glue," "It Happens" and "Little Miss," as well as old standards like "Baby Girl."

Nettle's vocals were in top form, and her stage energy and natural theatrics had us thinking she belongs on Broadway. The clear climax came with her emotional rendition of "Stay," which had the audience members behind us urging her on with declarations of "Sing it, girl!"

I was not a former fan of the radio version, but now I'm playing live recordings on repeat.

Nettles and her band further endeared the audience with an unexpected remix that included Beyoncé's "Bootylicious" in a nod to Houston. But the crowd went craziest when she briefly covered Cee Lo's "Forget You."

With every song giving the sense it was maybe-autobiographical, from her first hit to hip hop covers, she proved herself a performer. Here's hoping Sugarland makes themselves yearly visitors.