Unlike opening night when I was met with traffic at a dead standstill, there was no waiting to get into the grounds on this fine Friday afternoon. The festival now had that problem under control and the flow of traffic was fast and steady. I was a little disappointed. I didn't mind the walk much and thought it added to the whole experience of opening night, but nonetheless my legs thank the festival promoters for figuring out a better approach to the traffic for the following nights of the festival!
The first performer I saw on this night was Keith Anderson. He wasn't much for my taste. I wasn't a huge fan of his music and in most cases I can overcome that small infraction by a performance enhanced with some sort of dancing, audience engagement, or stage presence. I personally was not impressed with any of it. He barely danced, and stood in one place for most of the songs. He didn't really engage the audience at all. In all reality, that would have been kind of hard to do standing in one place. Then his stage presence seemed lacking. Perhaps I was just expecting a performance in comparison to the energy that emanated from the performances on opening night or maybe he just hit a sour chord with me. Whichever the case this was my least favorite performance of the entire weekend. However, the lack of entertainment that I saw did not stop the rest of the crowd and his fans to flock to him during his performance. I would have to say that was probably the most fascinating part of Keith Anderson's performance; the dedication from his fans, because even though he seemed to be putting forth little effort into his performance, they all cheered and danced as if he were. Overall if I were to rate Keith Anderson's performance at Country USA, I would give him a less than average, so-so, whatever rating. Nothing special in my eyes and I definitely wouldn't have been too overly sad had I missed the performance entirely.
Taylor Swift had the energy and stage presence needed to be great. She put on a great show but was lacking in something. I didn't figure it out until I saw Brad Paisley. He had this magnificent connection with the audience. Brad was able to grab the attention of the audience from the first second of his performance and kept them all engaged throughout the remainder of his show. Brad Paisley is the man! Need I say more? Of course I do!
All the stage lights went out. If you looked closely through the darkness that embedded you, you could see the outlines of people and all the commotion at the front of the stage. Then four or five of those individuals ran out at the same time; one of them guitar in hand. They ran six rows into the crowd and stopped. The crowd started screaming before the spotlight ever reached the man holding the guitar dressed in a pair of simple blue jeans, red t-shirt, and cowboy hat. Quickly he was engulfed by surprised fans as he started playing his guitar and singing. Men and women alike reached their arms out to get a mere touch of the Grammy Award-winning American country singer, Brad Paisley. Shortly thereafter the man reappeared from the crowd and the hands that were touching him released him in a wave and allowed him to pass through as he made his way back to the stage.
The remainder of his performance was very much the same. Brad was extremely in touch with the audience and had a very good chemistry on stage. He engaged everyone by throwing out random items for the fans to jump and fight over as well as reaching down and touching them whenever given a chance. In the background of the stage there was a huge screen that displayed different images including shots of the audience. It was evident that the fans were number one throughout the entire concert. Brad had an extremely well tailored stage presence and knew exactly how to use his surroundings to make the show as spectacular as it was.
Normally I would now say something along the lines of keep an eye out for this artist or that I expect to see many things from this artist in the future, however, Brad Paisley being a well seasoned veteran to the country music scene does not need me to state the obvious! If you missed this performance for whatever reason, be sure not to miss the next. Brad Paisley will not disappoint.
With all that being said, at the end of the night if you can make even just one person fall in love with you for the first time, it is a job well done.
For more pictures check http://www.myspace.com/lil_Jean (now posted!)