Miranda Lambert Owns Adoring Rodeo Crowd

Photos courtesy of Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
Miranda Lambert
NRG Stadium
March 5, 2014

Not above a cheap pop she totally didn't need to get the crowd in her corner, Miranda Lambert sweet-talked an NRG Stadium crowd of more than 60,000 fans for almost an hour Thursday night. But when you're able to convince that many people to sing along to a Dixie Chicks tune that has been banished from the airwaves for more than a decade, you're really onto something.

That's why she can get away with cheesy stuff like the video bit that introduced "Famous In a Small Town," where fans on-site told the camera what made them celebrities back home. Or "All Kinds of Kinds" which featured a selfie montage on the overhead video screens throughout the song, ending with one of Lambert captioned "Houston Kind." Making her fourth RodeoHouston appearance, the 31-year-old East Texas native was a charmer all the way through, from the spirited opening one-two punch of rockers "Fastest Girl In Town" and "Kerosene" to equally fiery closing volley of "Gunpowder & Lead."

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Eric Church Sends a Message as Rodeo Opener

Photos courtesy of Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
Eric Church
NRG Stadium
March 3, 2015

Asking Eric Church to open the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo's 2015 season definitely sent a message. The 37-year-old singer is what passes for an outlaw in country music these days, with more depth and a harder edge to his music than many of his peers. Yet in other ways, he's as mainstream as they come, and the chip on his shoulder about measuring up to icons like Hank Jr. and Merle Haggard only highlights how far he has to go. That much was obvious after "Pledge Allegiance to the Hag."

But for grownup fans looking to escape the teenybopper crowd that's likely to submerge later shows like Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan -- not to mention Ariana Grande and Fall Out Boy -- Church made one of the better options of the season, if not the best of the lot. Plus, the members of his band would look right at home most weekend nights at Houston's Continental Club, which is never a bad thing to see on that big revolving stage.

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For Real Country at the Rodeo, Seek the Hideout

Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
Yep...it's rodeo time again!
The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is unique, in terms of both size and the way it becomes the epicenter of the city's social calendar during the month of March. It's so big that one of the dozens of amusements is even a tent stuffed with the kind of music you'll find at most of the other rodeos in the state of Texas. It's called the Hideout, and here you'll find lots of drinkin' and dancin', singers in cowboy hats instead of ballcaps or fedoras, and even an actual steel guitar almost every night.

The folks in the Hideout get a fraction of the attention that the superstars over in NRG Stadium do -- to be fair, there's a lot of other stuff going on too -- but this is also where the beer is. So with apologies to Tuesday's Hideout kickoff artist Justin Van Zandt (shown above holding a newborn lamb at the rodeo's Birthing Center), we highly recommend making your way over to the Hideout to catch these ten acts during your rodeo adventures this year. And don't worry about finding the tent; it should be easy enough to spot from the giant Ferris wheel. Just look next to the Astrodome.

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Rodeo Defends Ticketing System, Says Sales Are Up

Categories: Electric Rodeo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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