Converted to country


Luke Bryan changes reviewer’s mind

I am admittedly not a country music fan. I don’t hide it, I’ll tell anyone to their face, but every once in a while an act comes to the California Mid-State Fair that makes me, in the deepest regions of my mind, almost, maybe, sort of, begin to question my decision and Thursday was one of those nights.

To be honest, I don't remember all of the Ten Commandments, but I’m pretty sure one of them went something like, “Thou shalt wear thy Wranglers whilst attending a country concert,” so even though it was hotter than the crevasse that separates the devil's cheeks, I did it.  I didn’t have a hat (it would have been handy though), or boots, or a gigantic belt buckle, but as soon as the music came on my hips started shaking as if they had a mind of their own and my feet began to stomp like there was a line of ants marching below.

My country music catalog consists of Garth Brooks greatest hits, a few Zac Brown Band songs and whoever sings that song about saving a horse to ride a cowboy. Most of the time I identify country artists by whatever chorus has somehow evaded the musical henchmen inside my brain, for example, I came into this concert calling Jon Pardi the, “Dirt on my Boots” guy. I know he spells his last name with an “I” at the end, but he needs to change it to a “Y” because he kicked off this concert as well as any headliner I’ve seen and turned it into a three-hour party. He came out to a roaring ovation, even though the stadium was only two-thirds full as the rest of the crowd that sold out this concert in only three hours waited in a line that spanned almost back to Atascadero, that made me question if I had somehow missed the opener and that this was actually Luke Bryan.

Pardi put on a great show, walking the stage and getting the crowd fired up not forgetting those in the bleachers to the left and right. The Mid-State Fair also seemed to step up their production value with the big screens this year because at times I caught myself staring at the screens as if I was in the Staples Center even though the artist was standing right in front of me.

What I thought was a loud ovation for Pardi was nothing compared to screams that rang into the night and probably into outer space when Bryan took the stage singing none other than, “Country girls.” If the chairs in the Mid-State Fair could speak I’m sure they would say Luke Bryan was also their favorite because everyone, babies included, stood the entire time. While I may not have know the words to many songs it did not matter because when he played the hits the concert transformed into 14,000 people singing drunken Karaoke with a beer raised to the heavens.

At one point, Bryan said that he had heard that he was one of only five people to sell out the Mid-State Fair (which is not true the Atascadero News has confirmed) and thanked the crowd profusely. The facts didn’t matter, the gesture was sweet and packed with humility and is something I’ve recognized with major country stars as Garth Brooks also thanked the crowd last year and even performed a second show.

As the concert was beginning to feel like it was drawing to a close, Bryan brought out Pardi for a few songs together and then like a group of sharks when chum gets thrown into the water, the crowd went into a frenzy. It was pandemonium, I think I even saw someone crying. In performing research for this concert, everything I read said Bryan was one of the best performers and if you check he has a list of awards that runs longer than a CVS receipt to prove it. Being the skeptic that I am, I wanted to reserve my judgment until after I saw him. The jury has made their decision and Luke Bryan is convicted in the first degree of murdering my hate for country music.

**Apparently Jon Pardi also fell in love with the Central Coast while he was here because he posted the video currently in this article on Tuesday afternoon that shows him performing at the Mid-State Fair, swimming in Paso Robles and getting a beer at F. McLintocks in San Luis Obispo.**

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