Dammit, someone lied to me and told me I was going to a country concert!
Wednesday night, me and nearly 15,000 music fans piled into CMAC to dig on country superstar Kenny Chesney's "No Shoes Nation" tour. The smattering of cowboy hats throughout the crowd looked as if a giant can of Pringles had been dumped over the people and furthered the country ruse.
Now, I'm not waxing purist here. Yes, I'm a fan of traditional twang-and-heartache country and its godfathers, like Hank and Lefty and Willie and Johnny (Paycheck, Cash, and Horton). But I'm also a rock fan. And this was a rock concert. Chesney's Tennessee twang, hat, and boots, and songs that salute a rural state of mind like "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy," only added to the country charade, and the crowd eagerly lapped it up.
But just as Chesney sings in a beautiful Dixie-drawled baritone, he's also singing songs like last night's opener "Feel Like Rockstar" over a loud band that was essentially a rock band looking for any opportunity to put the hammer down. The jumbo-tronic set was classic big-arena rock, too.
For close to two hours, Chesney bounded across the stage, working the crowd and bro-ing down with the guys in his band. Everyone was singing along and there was an ever-present rush of starry-eyed, starstruck cell-phone camera photogs crushing against the barricade.
Chesney's songs adhere to simple pop/rock hooks and immediate accessibility. But as far as I'm concerned, it was more rock 'n' roll than country -- and that ain't a bad thing...unless you wanted to hear some country.