It all started with the hot smell of asphalt and beer. The second annual Country Explosion 4-day music festival was held at the Deseret Peak Complex in Tooele July 17-20. As we drove in to the Complex on Friday the 18th there were areas for RVs or tents for those who wanted to experience the country-fest for the full 96 hours. There were ticket options for all flavors of fans from full event passes to one-day tickets. We chose to only go on Friday although the other days’ lineups were impressive showcasing artists such as Rascal Flatts and Toby Keith.
The first act went on stage at 4:30 in the peak of the July heat. Love and Theft played their bad-boy band role well and got the crowd ready for the rest of the day. They closed with “Angel Eyes” which I thought was the best song they preformed.
Rodney Atkins took the stage next wearing his signature t-shirt and baseball cap. He seemed to love letting the audience sing for him which can get old quick. I did enjoy listening to him, though.
At 7:45 the smoke and thunder started to cue in Gary Allan. He sounded great and put on a great show. I saw more people in Gary Allan t-shirts than anything else.
Unfortunately, the opening acts felt like just that. Aside from Gary Allan, I didn’t see much personality from the performers. The production value may have been lacking but luckily the talent wasn’t.
At 9:30pm the headliner made her debut and so did my tears. Reba McEntire emerged onto the stage sparkling like an angel. That may have been the sequin tank top she was wearing but like I said, I was crying and my vision was blurred.
“Why did you cry?” you may ask. I’m an emotional person already but this was a 25 on the 1-10 scale of emotions. The first CD I ever bought was Reba’s “Change My Mind” released the year before I was born. I bought it at a yard sale then begged my dad to buy “So Good Together” at a pawn shop a few years later. I have grown up a Reba fan. I had never been able to see her in concert so my entire life had been leading up to this moment.
Her set started with a video montage of her impressive career. She then took the audience on a journey through the years of her music. Starting with her first #1 hit “How Blue” then making her way through her hits, pausing every few songs to tell a story, showing off her southern charm. Throughout the whole show she carried herself with such ease it was like she’d done it before. The word that kept coming to mind was effortless. I don’t think she broke a single sweat. Her show had the full theatrics that were lacking on the opening acts including when the spotlights created a gunshot during “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia.”
Reba introduced her band, including her amazing backup singer. It’s not easy to hold your own while Reba is on stage but during “Does He Love You?” she showed that she could even as the other woman.
At 59 years old, Reba didn’t slow down for a moment. I saw her take a drink of water 2 times throughout her hour and a half set. She left no inch of the stage untouched. I was skeptical that maybe this was a Reba robot because she sounded so perfect. That was until she covered daughter-in-law Kelly Clarkson’s song “Because Of You” and forgot the lyrics. Even when she messed up she did it with poise.
Having made her way through music to the present, Reba ended her set with “Turn On The Radio” before coming back for an encore with none other than “Fancy.” We had been waiting all night to hear Fancy so the whole crowd was fully invested.
The whole day had been building up to Reba and for good reason. She is still putting on the show of a lifetime. I will definitely go to great lengths to see her in concert again and I would highly recommend that anyone go see her.
Haley Madison has been working at the UVU Review for two years and is currently the editor of the music and food blogs on uvureview.com. She has been working in journalism for four years and just can’t seem to let it go. She is majoring is psychology and hopes to be a sports psychologist. Her heart belongs to all animals, WWE and Real Salt Lake.