Big and Rich
June 2, 2012
The first in a series of post-game concerts at the Washington Nationals Park featured a high energy one hour set by country music's Big and Rich. The duo has been around since 2004 but went their separate ways for a couple of years and have now re-grouped. They are releasing their first new CD in 4 years in a couple of weeks.
The show started quickly after the conclusion of a well-played baseball game, a 2-0 Nationals win over the Atlanta Braves. The stage and sound system were rolled out behind second base and the infield grass was cordoned off to keep folks from trampling the sod. There was a $20 fee to go out onto the field to see the band up close so there weren't many people at the stage. The vantage from the upper deck was fine and plenty loud.
The show consisted mainly of their previous hits, opening with "Coming to Your City" and concluding with a rousing rendition of "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy". The latter segued through several other songs including, somehow, "Brick House". The set was a very energetic and percussion driven review of previous hits and one curious inclusion: AC/DC's "You Shook Me", which had sort of a Bakersfield rolling rythm as opposed to the original hard-driving rock version. The two highlights of the set included "Lost in the Moment" and "The Eight of November", both of which focused more on vocal harmonies than stage theatrics.
The sound was a little lacking at first, but to the credit of whoever was running the sound board, it was corrected quickly and the vocals shone through. It seemed that the energy from the band never really transferred to the audience, probably because of the peculiar venue: playing in front of a basically empty infield and a small-ish crowd dispersed throughout a third full stadium. Most baseball fans, it would seem, were satisfied with the great game and headed to the Metro or to the traffic jam on I-395 after Tyler Clippard, the Nats closer, fanned the third of three Braves he faced in the ninth inning.
John Rich had some very cool guitars: Custom Gibson Hummingbirds, Songwriters and even a Flying V, all emblazoned with the "Musik Mafia" logo on the fret boards. The one sort of corny thing was that there were messages on the back of the guitars (like "SCREAM") which would appear when the artist flipped over their guitar. If the crowd's not that into it, a gimmick like that is probably not the best idea.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable set by a very talented band and two hyper-kinetic front men. I'm glad we were there to see it. I would love to see Big and Rich again in a better venue where their energy would be more contagious.