Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood sold 30,000 tickets in a minute, and probably could have sold twice that many judging by the crowds at the Mid-State Fair on Thursday. In the press conference before the concerts, Garth and Trisha’s excitement for playing a state fair was obvious as their faces lit up with animation as they talked about why it is so fun to play a fair. However, they both made one thing very clear, Thursday night would not be a concert, but a party, and a party it was.
Brooks and Yearwood were scheduled to come on at 7:30 p.m., with the doors scheduled to open at 6 p.m.. By about 6:30 p.m. the line stretched from the livestock barns all the way to Pismo Beach — or so it seemed.
The long serpent-esque line weaved throughout the fair, wrapping around the benches and clinging to any piece of shade that could be found. The most crowded portion of the fair was to no surprise, Jimmy’s Watering Hole. I’ve been attending the fair for years but never considered the name much before the concert. Thinking about it now and seeing 2,000 people all gathering around a small bar to get their hands on a tall boy, I realize how genius the name is.
I only attended the 7:30 p.m. show, so I can not speak to the madness of the 10:30 p.m. show, but I have never seen a crowd this hungry for a performance. The entire crowd was like an excited puppy that is watching his ball bounce around just in front of him, but are still being held back by their leash. They were ready to explode, each time a sound man or guitar player walked on stage the entire area would erupt in applause only to realize that their country music superhero was still backstage.
Then he walked out to an ovation louder than ten fighter jets flying directly over your head. The thunderous praise started to break, only long enough for him to strum his guitar once, and the party was on. A murmur of “I think that’s ‘Rodeo’” swept across the bleachers as everyone tried to recognize which song he opened with over the screaming crowd.
I thought there was only one Garth Brooks in the world, but on Thursday I swear there were 15,000 of them. Brooks kept playing hit after hit, with the crowd all singing together in unison as if they were hymns in the church of country music. Flabbergasted by the amount of fans who knew every word to his songs, Brooks began bantering with the Paso Robles crowd, playing older and older hits trying to see if there was a limit to amount of lyrics that we knew.
I am admittedly not a country music fan, but found myself singing at the top of my lungs, as passionately as I could as memories of working outside in the hot sun with my father began flooding my memory. As someone who was born around the time of Brooks rise to success, his music reminds me of my childhood and like a child I spent the entire night watching him perform with my mouth open wide and eyes at three times their normal size as I tried to absorb all that was happening around me.
Garth and Trisha brought extensions to the stage that ventured out to the ends of the bleachers on both sides, allowing him to fully rock the entire crowd. It was easy to see how this man has sold more than 100 million albums. I’ve told this to everyone I’ve talked to since the concert and I stand by it: Brooks had more fun performing for us on Thursday than did a single person who bought a ticket, I guarantee it.
His exuberance was infectious, genuine, and inspiring. After seeing five concerts in the past 10 days, it makes sense why he sells out entire areas in less than 30 seconds. Until Thursday night, I thought that most of the performers enjoyed being in Paso Robles and rocking with us, but that was before I witnessed what true sincerity looks like from a superstar. I’m sure there are the cynics reading this and thinking that it’s all just for show, but as someone who also met the man, I can tell you he is as honest and honorable as they come. After we turned off the cameras for our interview, he asked me if I played any sports in college and had genuine conversation with me, a 24-year-old nobody from nowhere.
Brooks promised the Paso crowd all of the old hits, and did not disappoint. My euphoria rose to a crescendo as I sang along with 15,000 newfound friends of mine as we slipped on down to an oasis of our own. I’ve been to many concerts in my life, and I hate being a prisoner of the moment, but this very well could have been the best concert I ever attended and would do it all over again, even in 104 degree heat.