Rascal Flatts ‘not your usual country band’

Rascal Flatts ‘not your usual country band’

Lauren Puckett

Photo used with permission from Ap- Coming Up: Rascal Flatts next album “Changes” comes out April, 2012.

I don’t exactly feel at home in a pair of cowboy boots. The closest I’ve come to being a “cowgirl” was when I took my grandpa’s horse out for a ride around the ring when I was 10.
Back then I loved to pretend I could gallop with the best of them, but the little spark of southern in me rarely rears its head anymore.
However, when it comes to music, I try to dip my feet in every pool. I have 1,072 songs on my iPod, ranging from “Miss Saigon” to Adele, Bass Nectar to Billy Joel,  and Eminem to Carrie Underwood.
So when my parents, presented my brother and me with Rascal Flatts tickets as a Christmas present, I was more than willing to take another taste of the “cowgirl” experience.
Upon arriving at the concert, I bought some M&M’s and a soda, then sat down with my family and waited for the show to start. About 15 minutes later, the M&M’s lay forgotten, scattered across the concrete floor, kicked over by clumsy boots. I grinned, standing up and dancing, watching the lead singer of Rascal Flatts charm his audience with ease.
The songs were enjoyable, with upbeat numbers such as “Me and My Gang” and the slower, softer tones of “Bless the Broken Road.” A country swing accompanied every song, but enough rock/pop style to keep every aspect interesting. Audience members, dressed in everything from cowboy boots and denim jeans to sequin tops and pencil skirts, remained enthralled.
Rascal Flatts is headed by a trio of men — Gary LeVox, lead singer, Jay Demarcus, bass guitarist, and Joe Rooney, lead guitarist — who shared the performance equally. Each member had a section of the show where he sang a song which influenced the band and played along, coupling vocal acts with charismatic conversations with the audience, inciting laughs and cheers. The guys were personal, making the concert much more than  a country showcase.  They made it a party, one where even a girl like me — who knows next to nothing about country — could have a blast.
They brought Sara Evans on to sing a passionate duet. They leaned down to the crowd and posed for pictures, throwing up peace signs and goofy smiles. They walked up and across the stage, teasing one another about their “Blake Shelton booties” and wild hair. They had a blast, as did the audience.
At one point, a little girl in the front row waved her arms back and forth, reaching up for LeVox as if she wanted a bear hug. He leaned down and helped bring her up onto the stage, a little girl with bows in her blonde hair and wide eyes that stared out at an audience gone wild.  LeVox walked her around, holding her hand in his left and singing into the microphone in his right. He let her high-five the audience, and she followed him eagerly, refusing to go back to her family until the song reached its end. LeVox got down on one knee, looked her right in the eye and kissed her cheek as she smiled shyly back.
Rascal Flatts was nothing if not entertaining. They played and sang their music wonderfully, but their charm stole the show.
The finale marked the best of the concert, where the band members sang their Christian ballad, “He Ain’t the Leavin’ Kind.” The background screen exploded into colors of red, white and blue, while the long doors opened and out marched a group of seven Marines, dressed in complete uniform. They stood in front of a giant American flag and saluted the audience, chests stiff, heads high, home once again. They met the deafening roars of an audience, ranging from tiny and innocent to elderly and wise, all of them happy to hear “God Bless America.”
By Lauren Puckett