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Culture / Entertainment

Luke Bryan Growls, Forgets His Own Song Lyrics and Shows Off His Butt in Wildest Rodeo Concert Ever

This Country Music Stars Shakes It More Than Shakira

BY // 03.09.18
photography Michelle Watson/CatchlightGroup.com

You can count on Luke Bryan. Well, mostly. You probably can’t count on him to keep a straight face. Or to not steal the spotlight. But you can count on the country music star to sing in his signature Top 40 with a twang and style.

You can count on him to shake his hips, wearing a wolfish smile and giving Shakira a run for her money. You can count on him to crack open a cold Miller Lite onstage. You can count on him to live it up.

At the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Thursday night, Bryan delivered — for the seventh year running. Luke Bryan: double the first names, double the fun.

Over the course of his one-hour performance, the showboat showed more than 72,000 fans a good time. But you could tell the natural-born people pleaser had a little trouble keeping things PG.

The ballsy baritone kicked it casual, with “Huntin’, Fishin’ And Lovin’ Every Day” for the first song. The crowd swayed, and nodded their heads. Bryan was huge up there on the screen, but he wasn’t larger than life — yet. The American Idol judge and RodeoHouston veteran sung easygoing, if addicting, lyrics.

Wearing a navy baseball cap, jean jacket with the sleeves rolled up, and blue jeans cut somewhere between boot and skinny, Bryan was dressed chill enough.

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But by the second song, that innocuous baseball hat had been flipped backwards. Bryan put on “Don’t Want This Night To End,” but he also didn’t want it to start without the right attitude. It was during that fateful second song that the hip-shimmying started. Short-lived, but shameless.

It was caught directly by the cameraman on stage, and Bryan grinned and made eye contact with the lens.

Reactions were positive, but mixed: high-pitched screams or good-natured, somehow-still-shocked laughs. Bryan loved the attention. And, honestly, it was hard not to pay up. It was as if Bryan’s approach to entertainment is a self-fulfilling prophecy. His self-approval was more than enough for the rest of us.

The next song was made for arenas. “Light It Up” simply calls out for the flashlight app. The jean jacket came off, the carefully practiced earnest/yearning face came on

Watching him perform the song about unanswered texts was a crash course in Luke Bryan Power Poses. You’ve got your hands gripping the mic, eyes squeezed shut, head thrown back. You’ve got your staring straight ahead, one hand pulsing over the heart. And let’s not forget the classic lean, guitar swinging slack.

He stopped short of outright vogue-ing, which was both disappointing and a relief. Things got next level with “Someone Else Calling You Baby,” as Bryan brought the drama to the recurring lyric “Lay it on my heart!” The packed crowd at NRG Stadium sang along with the catchy done-me-wrong tune, especially with Bryan’s drawn out “babbbyyyy”s.

“Where’s my Texas baby tonight?” he shouted. Thousands volunteered.

Luke Bryan Forgets Something

During “Most People Are Good,” we learned that we’ve “got a lot of good people in the great state of Texas.” It was not clear if that group includes the aforementioned Texas baby.

No one can forget what happened next, but Bryan may wish he could. He forgot the opening lyrics to “Crash My Party,” honest to goodness. At first, we thought he just wanted some help singing. “Y’all help me out!” But then it quickly became apparent it was more than a bit.

“Hold on, I’ve got to read ’em,” Bryan laughed. While openly squinting at the closed captions at the far end of the stadium.

He got it eventually, and just kept on singing from the moment he started like nothing had happened. It eased gently into the somber “Drink A Beer.” A single spotlight shone on Bryan, and for once the focus was on his voice. He cracked open a cold one, as expected, and toasted the arena. “Drink a beer for someone you love tonight!”

But that was the end of Mr. Nice Guy. When “Play It Again” started up, Bryan was on the prowl. The radio hit had people dancing in their seats. The format was fluid, lyrics sung back and forth, swapped between Bryan and the crowd. “All night long!” had the strongest overlap between the two, over and over again.

Bryan shook his hips, loving every minute of it. Then, he grew a little still, and looked out on the crowd. The camera honed in on his profile. The timing was perfect. The camera zoomed in, and Bryan… purred? Growled? One thing’s for sure: he rolled his Rrrrs, raised his eyebrows, and seduced a crowd of thousands.

There was no rest for the wicked. Even though “Rain Is A Good Thing” can be considered a song about praising nature and agriculture, there’s another message. “Who wants to get a little frisky on a Thursday night?” Bryan shouted. We got the math: rain makes corn, corn makes whisky, whisky makes my baby feel frisky.

All that said, it was the ideal setup for “Country Girl (Shake It For Me).” He shakes it, after all. It’s only fair. It was at that point Bryan, or RodeoHouston, or both, wanted us all to know that the camera loves Luke Bryan. Specifically, his butt. The camera angles shifted from the typical straight on to behind at a rapid pace, at times even panning from his knees up.

Too subtle for you? You’re in luck. Bryan got off stage, ran along the side giving fans high fives and taking selfies, then climbed up on the railing. He threw one leg over and danced while he sang. The camera did, in fact, love him. Bryan would hop down, sprint to another section of the stadium, and repeat. Bryan, or more importantly, his butt, made the rounds.

He stayed on the floor throughout the last song, “That’s My Kind of Night.” It’s safe to say he’s not the only one.

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