Rascal Flatts brought their Rhythm and Roots tour to Dallas with special guest Kelsea Ballerini.
03-Aug-2016: The audience members with reserved seats waited until the sun went down to enter Gexa Pavilion on this hot, almost-August night. The lawn area filled up much faster as fans got in position and drank cold adult beverages to stave off the heat. The venue also opened up a large pit area in front of the stage for the boot scooters and youngsters who wanted to be up close to the action.
Everyone worked up a good sweat while waiting before Kelsea Ballerini took the stage and dialed up the temperature even higher. She caught everyone’s attention with her bubbly personality, her black leather Daisy Dukes, and a sweet voice that matched her effervescent style. She displayed a stage presence of a veteran, not a 22-year-old up-and-coming singer.
She put her 40-minute set together well, alternating fast and slow songs and telling a couple of great stories. The highlight of her 10-song set was Kelsea joining the crowd to take selfies with anyone who could get close to her. A touching moment was an extra-long hug with a young, special-needs girl. It had a profound effect on the young fan as well as everyone who witnessed this special moment.
Among her playlist was “Love Me Like You Mean It,” her first No. 1 hit. Another chart-topper was “Dibs,” which she sand to everyone’s delight.
It took a few minutes to reset the stage, and the crowd began to get restless. The curtain parted, revealing a pinball-lit stage. Rascal Flatts came out and started with “Summer Nights” and the dedicated audience knew every word and sang along.
Vocalist Gary Levox engaged the fans early and got them involved by holding his microphone out to the crowd for them to sing “I Like The Sound Of That.” When RF sang their part, the finely-tuned harmony was the result of years of perfecting their craft. It’s no accident they’ve sold over 23 million albums and 28 million downloads.
Gary said they brought a present from Nashville and sang the hit song “Banjo” to a big pop. A medley of singles by Gary, guitarist Joe Don Rooney and bassist Jay DeMarcus kept the crowd singing and dancing.
The people in the seats jumped up for “Life Is A Highway” as their blended harmony and musical abilities again shined through. Joe’s electric guitar solo was a highlight of “Why Wait.”
Jay then took the mic for a short comedy routine before a moving speech on the unity of this great country. The vets in the crowd got a well-deserved ovation for their service to America.
Rascall Flatts followed with “Stand,” declaring, “we came here to party our asses off!” The band segued into their next song, the Genesis hit, “In The Air Tonight.” They played the intro of a couple of Journey songs to tease the crowd before finishing with “Bless The Broken Road” as the women swooned.
The audience raised the decibel level when Gary lifted a little girl from the front row onto the stage. She stole the spotlight by singing and dancing along with the band for the thrill of her life.
A double drum solo highlighting “Fast Cars And Freedom” preceded a tribute to Prince. The crowd exploded for “Purple Rain” and sang along as well as danced to the Purple One’s hit. Joe’s mid-song solo had the entire venue pumped up.
Again connecting with the crowd by shaking as many hands as possible, Gary sang “Love You Out Loud.” Some of the women became teary-eyed as the first few notes of “My Wish” played, while the guys took the opportunity to comfort their dates.
A changing kaleidoscope pattern on the overhead screen mesmerized the audience while all three band members took turns singing verses of “Take Me There.” A disco ball then appeared on the screen as the guys showed tremendous harmony on “What Hurts The Most.”
Everyone again took turns singing “Here’s To You.” Gary utilized every inch of the stage while Joe said, “Let’s jump,” and led the hopping fans before finishing their set.
No one left Gexa as Rascal Flatts made their way back to the stage quickly for their encore. Kicking beach balls into the crowd, they played “Me And My Gang.” The concert-ending jam session lasted several minutes and again showcased their skills as both musicians and entertainers.
There is an art to putting together a show that captures and keeps the attention of fans throughout the night. Through constant touring, Rascal Flatts has learned that art. They’ve learned what works, and what doesn’t, and aren’t afraid to try new things.
In a show of respect, they gave away seats to veterans to enjoy the night. They often spoke to the crowd as if they were sitting in the den having a conversation.
Rascal Flatts wasn’t promoting a new album. Instead, they were touring simply to entertain their legions of fans. The fans loved it and went home happy after getting a great night of music.
Catch Rascal Flatts on their Rhythm and Roots Tour through October.
Special thanks to Fred and Holly at Gexa Energy Pavilion for their assistance.
Joe Guzman of National Country Review was on hand to photograph the event.