When Garth Brooks plays a free SXSW show that you don’t have to line up to get into, you kind of have to go. Obviously, I am not a country music fan but I’ll be damned if I pass up an opportunity to see one of the most famous country singers of all time. Despite it not being in the 90’s, Brooks’ star power was evident as we approached the Auditorium shores grounds in Austin. People had camped out in the morning to wait for their chance to get in and those who didn’t get tickets were already situated in parking lot roofs or any elevated grounds that could provide a view onto the stage. Given that we were in the heart of Texas, it should not be surprising that a free Garth Brooks show garnered a lot of interest around the city.
Brooks took the stage just a bit after eight and just went right for it. As I noted to Paul about ten minutes into the set, he went from 0 to 100 almost immediately. What I mean was, by song 2, he was already busting out a ballad and had the crowd singing along with lighters in the air. Typically, that stuff is done at the end of the set, unless your name is Garth Brooks. I only know one of his songs (The Thunder Rolls) but Brooks played a lot of his hits (I think) and had the crowd singing and dancing to every song.
Brooks maintains a pretty good stage presence, he wears one of those headset microphones that’s normally reserved for dancing types like Britney Spears, but it allows him to roam the stage and sing and point to people in the crowd. In other words, his crowd coverage is good. The man loves pointing to people during his music. His songs follow some familiar country genres, and to paraphrase him, there were love songs, dancing songs, drinking songs and the like. Garth seemed to really appreciate the audience and told the crowd that he really hopes that the live version of The Thunder Rolls was the best live version they ever played. It’s kinda corny, but it’s still appreciated.
In the end, a good show for me, but a great show for many.