The Sprint Center’s first rodeo went off without a hitch. A concert by country artist Pat Green followed Thursday’s barrel racing, calf roping and bull riding.
The American Royal Pro Rodeo’s move from Kemper Arena to Sprint Center proved to be a significant upgrade for fans of the concerts that traditionally conclude each day’s competition. The transition from a dusty rodeo to a sleek concert setting was a model of efficiency.
After the final struggle between animal and man at 9:35 p.m., a stage at the south end of the arena was lowered from the ceiling as a mixing board was pulled into position by a buggy painted in John Deere green.
Fans who purchased wristbands for an additional $10 were admitted onto the dirt-covered arena floor 15 minutes later. About a fifth of the audience of approximately 2,000 opted for the opportunity to stand or dance near the stage. They were joined by many of the genuine cowboys and cowgirls who had competed earlier in the evening. Green’s first song began a few minutes before 10 p.m.
Post-rodeo concerts at Kemper Arena were often perfunctory affairs. The sound was channeled through the arena’s tinny public address system. While slightly shrill and occasionally murky, the sound for Green and his solid five-piece band was more than adequate. A larger crowd would have minimized the echo heard Thursday. Green’s most quiet material, such as the accordion-tinged ballad “Crazy,” sounded best.
Given the circumstances, lighting on the spartan 6-foot-high stage was impressive. Live images from three or four cameras were crisply displayed on the four-sided scoreboard at the center of the arena. The only problematic logistical issue was the lack of a beverage vendor near the stage.
Green’s 80-minute performance showcased the proud Texan’s slightly unconventional take on country music. Based on heartland rock, his approach worked best on “Southbound 35.” His defining song was effectively interspersed with a solid cover of Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me” and the guitar break from Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town.”
A Texas Rangers fan, Green offered regular updates on the score of the concurrent World Series game. His team lost. Music lovers in Kansas City, however, should place the significance of Thursday’s event in the win column.