Rascal Flattlines: Country powerhouse eclipsed by opening act



Nothing about a Rascal Flatts concert feels authentic.

The cowboy hats and boots in the crowd look like they’re freshly dusted off, straight out of the closet and worn once a year to this particular event, only to be stowed away again until Rascal is back in town. The Levi’s don’t have any Skoal rings because these fans will go home at the end of the night and replace their boots with Sperrys and Uggs.

This concert was a date party. People funneled in in pairs, and gave one another googly eyes when “These Days” blared through the arena. In fact, one guy proposed to his girlfriend with the help of Rascal Flatts lead vocalist Gary LaVox.

But before the pop/country trio could take the stage, they had to wait for Luke Bryan – the free spirited, fun loving opening act. Bryan looked like he came straight out of his basement with his buddies, had a blast for 45 minutes with blazing guitar solos, Metallica covers, sing alongs and cup holders on his mic stands.

By the end of his set, most of the crowd looked like they had gotten their money’s worth, only to remember they still had two hours of Rascal Flatts ahead of them.

And let’s remember, Rascal Flatts isn’t country music. They’re the marijuana of country music – a gateway drug to the hardcore stuff. They’re the band that guys like Luke Bryan make fun of for going too mainstream.

The tour is meant to celebrate 10 years of Rascal Flatts, and there’s no denying the group’s popularity. But it’s just as hard to deny that it’s waning. The upper level of Rupp Arena was closed off, while two years ago it was completely sold out. The guys are reaching their 40s, singing songs about being in their 20s, and they’re simply fading into the shadows of the growing genre of country music.

It’s hard to take a guy seriously when he sings about his good ole’ days in the country while he prances around stage in bedazzled jeans.

To make things better, JCPenney sponsored the tour, and made sure to show a video before Rascal took the stage in which the group discussed their favorite aspects of the department store’s new look.

What makes it all sad is that the group is still extremely talented. LaVox has an unmatched level of control over his voice, and age hasn’t affected his sound at all. Maybe it’s just best to listen from behind your home stereo, so as not to be reminded of the beautiful voice’s aging source.

Rascal made sure to hit the favorites, shying away from their newer material – a pleasant surprise for fans. But the group just looked like playing a show has become routine. The passion is gone and now it seems more like they’re there to collect their paycheck.

Lucky for fans, the silver lining came in the form of an opening act named Luke Bryan, reminding us all of the soul behind real country music, before it’s been tainted by the grimy hands of Hollywood.