Paisley impresses Rodeo newcomer

Thousands of people packed into Reliant Stadium Saturday night — 73,835 patrons to be exact, according to the Houston Chronicle — to see the rodeo events and, of course, Brad Paisley’s performance.

The night started off with what the rodeo is all about: the competition. Since the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo closed Sunday, the finals for tie-down roping, bareback roping, team roping, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, bull riding and barrel racing were all Saturday and more than $400,000 was given out to the various winners.

After the main events, there was the world’s largest calf scramble. The audience chuckled and cheered while teens ran after calves, hoping to catch one and drag it into the square in the middle of the arena. After they managed it, they got to keep their calf to raise it for one year and return to the rodeo in 2012 to sell it and keep the proceeds.

After the scramble, five-year-olds showed their mettle by riding sheep, hanging on for dear life as the sheep tried to run out from under them. The audience applauded the little cowboys and cowgirls enthusiastically.

The excitement really hit, however, when Brad Paisley took the stage at 7 p.m., once again proving himself a Rodeo Houston favorite. Although the atmosphere was slightly calmer and the audience slightly more subdued than they could have been, Paisley delivered a solid country music performance.

Paisley played to the crowd, making them laugh by dedicating his hit Celebrity to Charlie Sheen and changing the chorus of his song American Saturday Night to “Texas Saturday Night.”

“I love everything about Houston — except the humidity,” he said to chuckles and murmurs of agreement.

His set list included hits such as “Ticks” and “Waiting on a Woman,” and new songs, like “This is Country Music,” the title track on his upcoming album. He switched between funny and upbeat to sweet and slow effortlessly and the audience was happy to sing along.

The performance included a life-size bobblehead of Paisley running around the outside of the arena, a multitude of beautiful, colorful guitars and Paisley himself taking a spin around the front row and shaking hands.

The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is definitely worth the time. Everyone who has ever considered themselves a Houstonian should go once, if only to see what all the fuss is about.

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