Country, though not considered to be the most popular of music genres, still has an avid following, even in urban areas. This was apparent at the Carrie Underwood concert on Wednesday, March 31, at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Arena.

The night as a whole was full of surprises, from the barely heard of first act, to some of the more extreme stunts pulled by Underwood herself, which ranged from amusing to strange to downright confusing.

The venue was packed by the time the headliner made her way onto the stage between Carrie Underwood and her two opening acts, the concert was about two and a half hours long. There were definite polarities in the opening acts from the mellow edge of country, to the most traditional, with Carrie right in the middle.

The Sons of Sylvia consists of three brothers who seemed to be especially popular with the younger crowd, though not so much with the die-hard country fans. Though their singles ‘John Wayne,” ‘Revelation” and ’50 Ways” have been playing on country stations for awhile now, they are still relatively unknown, due largely to the fact that their CD isn’t out yet. (It will be released on April 27.)

Their set was relatively short, though they did make an appearance later to sing a duet with Underwood.

The second opening act was Craig Morgan, who you’ve probably heard of even if you don’t listen to country. He was definitely more of a crowd pleaser, mostly due to the fact that everyone knew his songs, but there was also the appeal of a ‘true country star.”

Morgan is most famous for songs like ‘Redneck Yacht Club” and ‘International Harvester” which he performed along with newer songs like the popular single ‘This Ain’t Nothing.” His set was exceptionally long he was really more of a secondary headliner than an opening act. However, it was after his set that things really got started.

Underwood opened the show with ‘Cowboy Casanova” unsurprising, since it’s one of her most popular songs. Her entrance, however, left the audience wondering whether to laugh or not. She rose through the center of the stage on an old-fashioned couch.

Anyone who has seen the music video for ‘Cowboy Casanova” knows this fits in with the song’s Old West theme. But this was only the first in a long line of strange stunts that would be pulled during her set.

She changed her costume no less than five times, and often had a microphone change to match. For one costume, she wore a leather corset and a pink ball-gown skirt and then swung on a wooden swing that descended from the ceiling for her song ‘Just a Dream.” She also had another ball-gown type dress that lit up sometimes in fireworks, sometimes just in stars, and at one point there was a flying dove projected on it.

This wasn’t even as weird as it got. She also rode around on a suspended blue pickup trip. Underwood rode in the flatbed of a blue pick-up truck that was suspended in midair. That also shot glitter out of the exhaust pipe.

Other highlights included a virtual duet with a man at the Grand Ole Opry, a bedazzled piano and a never ending storm of glitter and streamers that rained down on the folks who had bought floor seats.

It was honestly one of the strangest concerts, country or otherwise, that I’ve ever attended. Though Sons of Sylvia and Craig Morgan both performed well, and were well-received, it’s very hard to compare to the assault on the senses that was Underwood’s set. It’s not that the show wasn’t enjoyable the gimmicks were funny, whether they were meant to be or not.

However, it detracted from her music. Though I think Underwood is talented and an excellent performer, I remember very little about the actual songs she performed, or any of her musical capabilities. It was overshadowed by the ridiculousness of the other events at the concert.

Perhaps if Underwood had just let her music speak for itself, I wouldn’t have left so confused and almost disappointed.

Howard is a member of the class of 2013.

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