By Teresa K. Flatley
Tim McGraw is that tiny spot of white in the photo.
When people heard that my husband and I had gone to see the raucous and rockin' Brothers of the Sun Tour featuring Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw (Summer, 2012), a few looked at me incredulously. YOU went to the concert?
Why not? I am a big fan of country music and have been for years. I really like Kenny's music and even though I haven't been the biggest McGraw fan, had no reason not to want to see him. I was hip, wasn't I?
Since I believe country music is where rock and roll went to live, the two of us old rockers thought we would feel right at home at the sold out concert of 53,000 at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field. Well, apparently, we were delusional. Walking over to the concert, I realized immediately that I was underdressed. Where was my cowboy hat? My Daisy Duke cutoffs? My cowboy boots? And maybe the biggest sign of all that this would be a different experience? We weren't teenagers.
Now you can go weeks in Pittsburgh and never see a cowboy hat or boots, but there were thousands of them on display at the concert. People must keep them hidden on the back shelf of their closets until Kenny arrives in town and then dust them off to wear.
Dress code aside, there are other changes in the concert scene since we Boomers were hip to it. Maybe the amount of drinking hasn't changed since back in the day, but it seemed to me that the amount of underage drinkers around us was staggering.
Tailgating parties filled all of the public lots around the stadium and even in the Downtown area because, and you may not know this -- people tailgate even when they don't have tickets to the event just to be part of the ambiance.
But the most noticeable change since my last concert -- Crosby, Stills and Nash and they couldn't keep David Crosby on stage for more than five minutes at a time -- was that pretty much everyone stood during the two mega stars' entire sets.
From watching CMA awards shows and country music videos, I was aware that everyone on the floor surrounding the stage stood up. But I was surprised when people around us did the same, way up high in the bleachers. Standing was apparently de rigueur, as was dancing and singing every word to every song out loud. That tended to drum out the voices of the performers quite a bit, but no one seemed to care.
Now I know that Kenny Chesney is a "hillbilly rock star, out of control" and writes a lot of songs about beer and partying and beer and going out and beer. Everyone wants to party with Kenny who spends time at some of his concert venues hanging out with the folks who have come to town to see him. But he is also a good balladeer and writes songs that have a lot of heart and humor behind them like Don't Blink, about how quickly life passes, and the cute ditty: Everybody Wants to go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to go Now."
Even though he sang another slow favorite, Boys of Fall, about young men playing football together, that one pretty much brought the house down when Kenny took off his cowboy hat and put on a Pittsburgh Steelers helmet.
But the best part of the concert was how hard all of the performers worked to ensure the crowd had a good time. Opening acts Jake Owen and then Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, primed the crowd for Tim McGraw, who sang most of his biggest hits. Kenny performed last, appearing in mid-field and then riding a chair lift to the stage.
These guys don't mail it in. They work really hard and on a hot night in Pittsburgh, it was appreciated by their fans. All in all, we had a good time at the concert. It was an "experience" and as I get older, I tend to think those are definitely worth searching out. And that's one more thing we can scratch off our Bucket Lists!