Country music veterans, Rascal Flatts, made a stop at the First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown, Pa. on Friday night. Bringing together people of all ages, these three men performed new songs from their album “Changed” as well as their older classics. The group started off the night with their cover of “Life Is A Highway” from the hit animated movie “Cars”. Fans in the lawn immediately came to their feet to sing and dance along.
Continuing on this upbeat start, Flatts performed “Banjo” which showed off their ability to rock out with a country sound. Over the years though, the band has transformed from a mainstream country to a mix of country and pop, as shown through their eight albums. Could this transition be the reason for lower attendance at this concert than I expected? Do true country music fans mind Rascal Flatts not staying true to country?
At times, I kept thinking back to last summer when Rascal Flatts was in Burgettstown and how this concert felt so similar. Most of the same songs were sung and the trio didn’t make any major changes or do anything spectacular that made this tour really unique. Flatts might still have their fans, but the same style and tone was present in their last two appearances to the area.
Did you know that the Rascal Flatts men are not from “somewhere down south” but our neighboring state of Ohio? Bassist Joe Don Rooney, guitarist Jay DeMarcus, and lead singer Gary LeVox, have been making albums and touring the country since 1999. Even though so many years have passed, they still have a decent fan following, although it didn’t look that way in the beginning Friday night. Much of the enormous parking lot at the First Niagara was still vacant and many of the back row seats under the pavilion were vacant, even when the band came on. Could Rascal Flatts be coming to the end of their popularity with music fans? Many people were still dressed in cowboy boots, jeans, and plaid, myself included. This was the second year in a row that I saw Rascal Flatts at Burgettstown. I am anxious and hesitant to see who they have fronting them next year if they return to the area
LeVox’s signature nasally tone of voice is known throughout the music industry. Flatts brought it back to one of their first singles from 2000 “Prayin’ for Daylight” which still seemed to be a favorite among fans, especially the adults present. The night wouldn’t have been made without the trio performing some of their slow ballads that every Rascal Flatts fan knows, such as “What Hurts The Most”, “I Won’t Let Go” and “Bless the Broken Road.” The encore songs were most appropriate for the evening, “Summer Nights” signifying the last nights of summer and “My Wish,” arguably the band’s most popular song.
The opening acts for the evening may have been just as popular for concert goers that night. Season three winner of “The Voice” Cassadee Pope sang many songs from her new album. Before beginning, rumors spread that she wasn’t as good in a live show. I will say that she did sound better back on “The Voice” than on stage Friday night. The former “Hey Monday” singer was supposed to begin her set at 6:00 p.m., as advertised on tickets and online. Unfortunately, fans were left waiting for an hour and a half for the show to begin. No one is certain why the singer took so long to begin, but fans didn’t seem to mind, this time. I don’t think she will have a lasting career if she disappoints ticket buyers with this kind of behavior often.
You may also be surprised to know that Kimberly, Reid, and Neil of The Band Perry, also performers of the night, are siblings. Opening with their most popular song at the moment “Done” the band started off strong and got the crowd pumped up for the evening. The trio first became a hit with their single “If I Die Young”, which they saved for the end of their set. The Band Perry’s set list became one huge sing-along with the crowd. Kimberly ran around the stage, jumping, dancing, and belting her heart out all with impressively high heels on. Regrettably some fans had to choose between watching these soulful siblings or meeting Miss Pope because lines for her meet and greet began right after her set finished. I am glad I didn’t go stand in line. But I was pleasantly surprised and The Band Perry was my favorite part of the evening.