Wednesday, September 19, 2007

RASCAL FLATTS @ Hyundai Pavilion!

I have to admit that three years ago at this time, I barely even knew who Rascal Flatts was. Since I wasn't really raised on Country music, it really took me a while to find out about them. Yes, I listened to and liked some of the Country acts that had crossed over to pop such as Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Lonestar and a few others, even purchasing several of their albums and singles... But it wasn't really until Keith Urban's "You'll Think Of Me" crossed over to multi-formats and Carrie Underwood caught my eye and ear on American Idol 4 almost three years ago that I truly opened my eyes to Country music. Early on during AI4, Carrie mentioned one of her favorite groups was Rascal Flatts, so I took a listen and quite surprisingly was liking pretty much everything I heard of theirs. It wasn't long before I owned all of their studio albums... For those of you that don't know them, Rascal Flatts is comprised of three members: Gary LeVox (lead singer), Jay DeMarcus (bass guitar), and Joe Don Rooney (guitar).

Needless to say, I was REALLY looking forward to this past Saturday night's show at the Hyundai Pavilion in San Bernardino. I even specifically joined their fanclub just so that I'd have the opportunity to purchase some really good seats. Very few of the concerts I've previously attended were built up by my friends and others like this one was. It was going to take quite a show to live up to all of the hype... Two and a half months ago, I was invited by a friend to see Brad Paisley at the same venue. We were a little disappointed though when the VIP seats we had ended up way back in row 18, after his fansite had promised seats in the first six or so rows. Such would not be the case this time though. When I picked up our VIP Tickets at will call about an hour before the show, I found we were on the right of the orchestra in the eighth row!!! In a nutshell, it meant we'd be able to walk right down by the stage and have a bunch of fun in "the pit" with fellow Flatts fans if we so desired - and that's exactly what we did!!!

The Rascal boys were also very wise to choose one of the most promising young Country acts to open for them in Jason Aldean. Aldean got his forty minute set started a little after 8 pm with songs from both his self-titled debut and his great new Relentless CD. Although the mostly female crowd was undoubtedly there to see Rascal Flatts, they were very appreciative of the energetic set delievered by Jason. Among the highlights of the set were his hits "Hicktown," "Amarillo Sky" and his raucous anthem "Johnny Cash." The crowd really went wild when he played his number one hit "Why." I have to admit, I didn't really know what Jason was going to bring to the table in terms of stage presence and talent, though I should have known after his song (and video) "Johnny Cash" came out that I was going to be in for a treat. If you ever get the opportunity to see him, definitely do so. He's immensely talented!

A few minutes after 9pm came the moment we all were looking forward to... the lights went out and the boys went right into "Me And My Gang." One of the great things about the show is that there was both a pit and a catwalk which was extensively used by all three of the guys. As a result, I was surrounded by a good number of screaming (and very pretty) girls the entire time! "Fast Cars and Freedom" was their next song and Gary got REALLY close to where I was (check out this extreme closeup!)... I almost got crushed by a few girls, but I can't say I was complaining at all! Yes, it was that kind of night... and the fun was just beginning!!! "I Melt" was next up, followed by their current and latest #1 hit single "Take Me There."

They then played a cover tune - James Brown's "I'll Feel Good" in which Jay took the lead vocal and did a little dance to the adoring female fans' delight. Another of their number one hits, "My Wish" was up next.

The band then did something which I thought was really neat - they launched into a set of several songs that weren't big hits on the charts, but rather personal and fan favorites. Although I'm really into their stuff, I wasn't all that familiar with tunes such as "Pieces," "To Make Her Love Me," and "Yes, I Do." I did know their song "You" quite well however, even though it wasn't a big chart hit... I really enjoyed this portion of the show as the girls around me were singing along loudly to every song...

As enjoyable as that set was, the final 50 minutes of the show was just beyond incredible... to say I was amazed would be the understatement of the year. They played "Stand," "Feels Like Today," and then probably my favorite song of theirs, "Bless The Broken Road." About this time, I moved slightly to the right to get a better view of things and closer to the stage (which I would soon be touching). And OK, I have to admit
that I also moved there to get closer to one particularly attractive girl (above) I had noticed during "Bless The Broken Road" - she would later get in the way of several of my pictures as she turned out to be as big of a shutterbug as me! I certainly didn't mind her getting in the way at all though. I was simply having an awesome time enjoying the great music, being in amidst the other great Flatts fans and especially being next to this beautiful girl... The picture above to the right and the two pictures below probably give the best perspective as to where I was standing in the pit (that's her in the lower picture on the left side. ;) ) Oh how I wish I could have just swept her off her feet. And yes, I did get to talk to her after the show. I found out her name is Jacqueline, but she was seeing someone... I know. Oh well... she definitely helped make the night even more fun and truly unforgettable for me... and for that, I don't think I can ever thank her enough.

Getting back to concert, the next song in their awesome set was their very first hit, "Praying For Daylight." They then played their huge multi-format #1 smash "What Hurts The Most"...

There was also a real touching moment towards the end of the show as Gary brought up a little girl from the pits during the performance of "Life Is A Highway." The guys then did something REALLY classy at the end of their hour and a half show, bringing up several of America's finest from the U.S. Marines on stage... the crowd went absolutely wild, and many (including Jacqueline) stayed long after the show to pose for pictures with them. Although I didn't personally get any pictures with the Marines, I did manage to shake hands with a couple of them. Simply put, none of us really wanted to leave!!! I can't ever remember being to a concert where I just had such a good time, enjoying all of the songs and the great people around me... This was truly a night that I'll never EVER forget! I can't wait until they come back to play here in SoCal again!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, John. I love their high tech stage setup. We saw them at the Minnesota State Fair this year. They get better every year, like Carrie.