Rodeo Defends Ticketing System, Says Sales Are Up

Categories: Electric Rodeo

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Photo by Marco Torres
According to rodeo officials, Pitbull is this year's third fastest-selling entertainer after Luke Bryan and Ariana Grande.
Tuesday afternoon, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo officials defended their new ticketing system against the criticisms of many fans who attempted to buy seats this past Saturday morning and instead were angered by long wait times and maddening error messages, among other complaints, and soon enough vented their frustrations on social media. Rodeo President and CEO Joel Cowley said the system, AXS, worked the way it was supposed to -- aside from some problems with the mobile app he said were quickly fixed -- but admitted the organization could have taken more steps to ensure fans' ticket-buying experience was smoother.

"Even though we had the information [available], I'm not sure we did the best job of getting it across," he said.


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RodeoHouston's New Ticket Selling System Leaves Many Waiting Around

Categories: Electric Rodeo

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Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
Luke Bryan, one year ago, which is when you should have gotten in line to buy RodeoHouston tickets.

Does anyone really like waiting rooms? It's one of the few things in society that seemed to be universally loathed. Waiting rooms are not really a concept that needed to be ported over to the digital world, but they "solve" a problem and so they exist.

This morning, thousands of folks in Houston and beyond found themselves in digital waiting rooms, watching a blue bar timer move from left to right across their screens, waiting for the moment they could buy RodeoHouston tickets.

This is not how most people wanted to spend a beautiful Saturday morning.

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Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Fall Out Boy, John Legend, Pitbull Head Up 2015 Rodeo Lineup

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Photo by Francisco Montes
Fall Out Boy at The Woodlands, August 2014
Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Fall Out Boy, John Legend, Ariana Grande are among this year's Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo entertainers, the rodeo announced moments ago on its Web site. Top country acts all familiar to rodeo fans include Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, The Band Perry and Brad Paisley.

Church, Grande and Fall Out Boy are rodeo first-timers; other recent returnees include Pitbull, Legend, Zac Brown Band, Bryan and Florida Georgia Line. Jackson, McGraw and Paisley are this year's senior entertainers, with Shelton and Lambert not too far on their heels.


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10 Not-So-Long Shots for the Rodeo's 2015 Lineup

Categories: Electric Rodeo

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Photo courtesy of Essential Broadcast Media
Eric Church could easily inject a note of rock and roll rebelliousness into this year's RodeoHouston.
This Monday at 12:05 a.m., the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo will announce its 2015 lineup, which it is rolling out alongside a switch to hopefully smoother ticketing system, axs.com. In just a couple of months' time, this spark becomes the roaring bonfire of civic pride that is this 20-day event (March 3-22), the largest of its kind in the world.

As such, the lineup is traditionally packed with some of the top country, pop and R&B names to be had, but every year those charged with its creation manage to toss in a curveball or two. So who might those be this year?


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Here's Something to Stir Up a Little Rodeo Fever

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The RodeoHouston 2014 Lineup: Maybe next year, Arcade Fire...
Note: Because there ain't a whole lot else going on, today Rocks Off is revisiting some of our favorite stories of 2014. Happy Holidays!

The past week or so, music news has been dominated by two big announcements: first the 2014 lineup of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in the California desert about three months from now, and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo's entertainers for its 83rd season this coming March. [The Rodeo will announce its 2015 lineup at 12:05 a.m. Monday, January 5 -- ed.]

On the surface the two events could not be more different. Coachella is shorthand for all that is hip and current, a magnet for the blue-state bicoastal media that fancies itself the arbiter of respectable musical taste. Much like Memorial Day weekend at the movies, it's also the opening salvo of music-festival season and the biggest island in the archipelago that also includes Bonnarroo, Sasquatch, Hangout, Outside Lands, Houston's Free Press Summer Fest, ACL Fest, and others.

The rodeo, meanwhile, is exactly that: not only the world's largest roping-and-riding competition, but also the biggest expression of traditional values and Go Texan pride to be found anywhere, period. Here signs of faith, family, patriotism, and respect for both education and the armed services are around every corner, on every video screen and in every exhibition hall. Although the beer and liquor flow liberally, for sure, it's a long way from the cornucopia of hedonism Coachella and most other big music festivals are usually made out to be.

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Rodeo Outlines New AXS-Based Ticketing System

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Officials from the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and ticketing company AXS explained their new ticketing system to members of the media Thursday morning, saying they hope it will prevent the demand-induced server crashes of recent years as well as help ward off scalpers and ticket brokers.

The change, which also severs the rodeo's longtime relationship with Ticketmaster, will be in effect by next year's event, scheduled for March 3-22 at NRG Park. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, January 17.

The new system will be available through AXS.com and the AXS smartphone app. As explained by AXS Vice President of Operations Curt Logan, the software creates a "virtual waiting room," a way station where ticketbuyers can monitor the availability of the performances they want to attend in real-time.


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The Band Perry at Reliant Stadium, 3/22/2014

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Photos courtesy of Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
The Band Perry
Reliant Stadium
March 22, 2014

Even in 2014, Queen's "Fat Bottom Girls" is not a song one normally expects to hear once in rodeo season, let alone twice. While Neil Perry, youngest member of the twentysomething Mobile-born sibling trio, couldn't bring quite the same lascivious smirk to the song as Kevin Fowler at the World's Championship Bar-B-Que cookoff a few weeks ago, he did reassert its value as a surefire crowd-pleaser whose ability to cause people both his age and a generation older titter and clap along simultaneously is almost eternal.

Saturday night at RodeoHouston, "Girls" also gave Neil's older sister Kimberly a chance to take a much-needed breather. Up to that point, about halfway through the band's hourlong set to an announced crowd of 73,943, she had hardly stopped moving for a second -- twisting, shouting, shaking, pumping her fists in the air, and generally doing the kinds of things singers do to hold a stadium full of people's attention. In the past the knock on the Band Perry in the past has been that they're a little green, a little too unsure of themselves to rank among country's elite acts, but that wasn't the group that showed up Saturday.


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Easton Corbin at Reliant Stadium, 3/21/2014

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Photos courtesy of Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
Easton Corbin
Reliant Stadium
March 21, 2014

Perhaps in the future the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo can line up one shameless throwback entertainer per season, not some old veteran whose days of heavy airplay are long behind him or her, but a commercially viable younger artist who demonstrates that country music is not completely dominated by wannabe outlaws or well-meaning buffoons. They do still exist, and some of them are even quite talented.

Maybe it can even sign up an appropriate company like Wrangler or Justin Boots to be a presenting sponsor; since "Throwback Thursday" is such a thing these days, why not do it then? The rodeo might as well, because that's what it got Friday when Easton Corbin made his debut to a Friday-night crowd that was smaller than it should have been at 58,784 announced, but young and female enough that hopefully the 31-year-old Floridian has wedged open the door for many appearances to come.


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Houston Meets -- Gasp! -- Dallas at the Rodeo's Champion Wine Garden

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Photos by Angelica Leicht
"Happy Rodeo! It's like our own little holiday! I love it!"

It's early in the evening, but the wine and the greetings are both flowing at Carruth Plaza in the heart of Reliant Park. The folks here are dressed to the nines for rodeo season, and between the blingy cowboy hats and expensive oversized turquoise jewelry, it's beginning to feel a bit like the set of Dallas -- with a RodeoHouston twist, of course.

Nearby, a well-dressed man is posing on top of the bronze statues in the rodeo's Champion Wine Garden, an outdoor "lounge" right in the shadow of Reliant Stadium, but no one seems to mind his selfies. A couple of glasses of wine will loosen even the stiffest bolo tie, and there is plenty of wine available here to work that magic.


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Florida Georgia Line at Reliant Stadium, 3/19/2014

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Photos by Nicholas Zalud
Florida Georgia Line
Reliant Stadium
March 19, 2014

Florida Georgia Line are easy to mistake for "bro country": they rhyme "Bocephus" with "Jesus" and would sooner walk as drive around in anything other than a candy-painted Silverado. But "bro-country" implies some sort of douchiness at its core, and these two guys are anything but clueless. They know exactly what they're doing; they're just unusually dedicated to having fun. It's just what they do.

Not that much different from Sinatra, when you think about it. More or less.

Perhaps a better term for the duo of Brian Kelley (Florida) and Tyler Hubbard (Georgia) would be "viral country." Certainly their breakout single "Cruise" has conquered everything in its path (6.3 million downloads and counting), but it's merely the biggest earworm on their platinum 2012 debut LP, Here's to the Good Times. Wednesday night Kelley and Hubbard tapped the keg and invited over 74,880 of their closest friends, for an enormous tailgate party that had to have been one of the most audacious debuts in RodeoHouston history.

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