Saturday Night: Toby Keith at The Woodlands
Toby Keith is America writ small: beholden to corporate interests, often hypocritical, prone to pursuing his baser urges while exhorting others to hold themselves to a higher standard. He is, in many ways, our exemplary artist for these modern times.
Keith's "Live in Overdrive" tour, which stopped by the Mitchell Pavilion Saturday night, was everything we've come to expect from the man. He was, by turns, patriotic, raunchy, self-deprecating, and obnoxious, with the entire concert experience inundated with enough Ford Motor Company product imagery to make us feel like were in the middle of a two-hour car commercial.
Then again, complaining about excessive advertising during a concert when just about every entertainment option available these days comes with an ad ticker, pop-ups or forced commercials seems almost... unpatriotic.
Before Keith took the stage, we had the pleasure of seeing Brantley Gilbert, who appears to have adopted the new-country movement by way of American Eagle Outfitters. The heavily inked Gilbert's band even features a grungy lead guitarist and a drummer with a Mohawk that would do Wattie Buchan proud.
Gilbert himself is the closest thing we've seen to a country version of Bret Michaels. From the chain wallet in his designer jeans to the Christian tats to the dog tags around his neck to his bellowing "TEXAS!" before every song, the guy has already dug a hole from which not even Bon Jovi's "Wanted: Dead or Alive" can save him.
That brings up another interesting point: Keith and company seem bent on laying claim to the disenfranchised metal community. How else to explain the pre-show intro of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" and bumper music that included "Coming of Age" by Damn Yankees? It's either an attempt to include other rebellious musical elements or a distancing of oneself from newer American country music.
And going by his songs, Keith knows quite a bit about these United States. His first two numbers were "American Ride" (the video accompaniment prominently features Harley Davidson motorcycles) and "Made in America," about a man whose heart was broken seeing foreign cars "filled with fuel that isn't ours." Dude, didn't you know this was Ford country?