WE Fest 2011 is in the books and it’s too bad it didn’t close on a better note.
I’m not talking about the rain that came at the end, but rather the closer, Rascal Flatts.
The trio’s odd show was anticlimactic after previous night headliners Brad Paisley and Sugarland. Miranda Lambert, who played before the Rascally ones would’ve been a better closer as she delivered a much more energetic set.
Not that the little Rascals didn’t try. Their set was interesting, a lit back drop with three doors and stairs coming down from each. As an intro video showed big blocks of ice cracking over the doors, the three main members appeared backlit in the entryway and sauntered down the stairs. Dramatic, but only as much as a JCPenny fashion show.
Each member took their place behind a couple of mounted floor tom drums that lit white when struck, kind of a cross between Blue Man Group meets Fushu Daiko. Suffice to say, it was a first for the usually fairly straight-laced WE Fest.
From there the group got the crowd going with “Why Wait.” I wish the band would’ve asked themselves that as they seemed to be running out the clock instead of running through their songs. Just a handful of tunes later bassist Jay DeMarcus took over as the others disappeared. He thanked the crowd, talked about how crazy country fans are and asked for prayers for the members of the military killed on Saturday. The way DeMarcus worked the stage, it wouldn’t have surprised me if he broke into a sermon.
Instead, a couple of tunes later, each member broke into a solo cover. DeMarcus sat at the keys for Michael McDonald’s “Taking it to the streets, while guitarist Joe Don Rooney picked away at Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “If the House is a-Rockin’” and singer Gary LeVox’s take on Stevie Wonder’s “Signed Sealed Delivered.”
Did someone need a breather? Were there technical problems to figure out? I kinda hope so because the pacing stalled the show, especially since the group shot the moon early by playing its biggest song, “Bless the Broken Road,” fourth.
Of course, they have other hits, like the Tom Cochrane cover “Life is a Highway” from the “Cars” movie., “Fast Cars and Freedom” and “Take Me There.”
It’s hard to say whether people started streaming out at the end of the main set because of the rain, because they thought the band was done or because they’d heard enough. The Flatt-tops came back for the spiritual “I Won’t Let Go,” the lyrics of which fit the rainy weather.
Those that stayed cheered for the finale, a medley of Boston’s “Long Time, Kansas’ Carry on My Wayward Son” and Edgar Winter’s “Free Ride.”
The group has talent, especially as a vocal group. When they are a rock group, they are pretty boring. Unfortunately that’s what closed out the region’s biggest country music fest.
That shouldn’t be a problem next year as the headlining acts, Alabama, Toby Keith and Jason Aldean, have all been announced.