Thanks to wet, stormy weather during the Brad Paisley concert Friday night, thousands of budget-minded fans got drenched, lots of cowboys boots were ruined, and a whole bunch of babysitters earned a little overtime.
It’s a risk you take when buying a ticket for a Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre show: If it rains, it could pour.
And pour it did – plus drizzled, misted, and spat – for most of the night, which was just getting started when an announcement was made that severe weather was moving in.
“If you have seats on the lawn, please head towards your vehicle in the parking lot,” a spokesperson for the venue said from the stage around 8 p.m., after No. 2 opener Lee Brice’s set concluded. “We will resume the show when the weather passes, and you’ll still get the experience of a full show tonight.”
Following a 30-minute delay, those who had been evacuated were recalled and final set-up act Chris Young re-energized the crowd, which had thinned ever so slightly. (“We just left,” a friend of mine tweeted. “I’m not drowning in that lawn.”)
Fans who stuck around wound up getting an hour and 45 minutes from Paisley – including every song noted on the set list I’d received before the show started – even if those toward the rear also got a little wet. And they didn’t get some watered-down version of the country star.
He was all about crowd-pleasing, from the astonishing souvenirs he distributed (a signed guitar, a selfie video he shot on a fan’s iPhone, his cowboy hat), to the jaw-dropping guitar solos (dare I say he’s better than Keith Urban?), to a set list that didn’t overdo it with newer stuff.
For every song off 2013’s “Wheelhouse” CD, there were three older hits. Love ballads like “Then” and “She’s Everything.” Laughers like a stripped-down version of “I’m Still a Guy”; “Celebrity” (dressed up with backdrop-video of fake tabloid headlines and goofball exploits involving a caricaturized mascot of Paisley); and the awkward but awesome “Ticks.”
In addition, a couple of his songs became more apropos than usual thanks to the circumstances Friday night: “Mud on the Tires” was one (and there was plenty of it as vehicles exited the dirt/grass lots after the show). “Water” was the other (self-explanatory).
But while there was water, water everywhere, the drink of choice – without question – was beer. Likely amplified by the humidity in the air and the overall dampness, Verizon reeked of it.
I’ve been to countless shows here, but I saw a higher-than-usual number of very-drunk people treating themselves to ticket upgrades, and got elbowed by more than a dozen intoxicated young women who clamored to get closer to Paisley when he took to a smaller stage for three songs midway through his set. (Not one said, “Excuse me.”)
Most amusingly, when Paisley teamed up late in the show with a convincing but pixilated version of Carrie Underwood for 2011’s “Remind Me,” two tipsy ladies next to me used their iPhones to take video of Underwood’s likeness ... and I am 99.9 percent sure they thought she was real.
As a soft rain continued, as lightning flashed in the distance, as the smell of spilled beer wafted through the venue, Paisley closed the night with 2004 hit “Alcohol.”
“Are you soaked back there on the lawn? Do you care?” Paisley shouted. “Are you too drunk to care?”