Randy Rogers Band brought some serious fans to the front of the Country Thunder stage, some wearing shirts and hats that said "Make drinking great again," a few guys going shirtless. It was fun to watch the set as filtered through their clearly liquored-up and very real enthusiasm as they sang along to every word in Rogers' set. Not that it wouldn't have been entertaining watching Rogers and his stellar band without the sideshow.
There's a reason they've gone Top 10 on the Billboard country album charts with five consecutive releases despite never having enjoyed the kind of airplay that could lead to higher placement on the Country Thunder bill, although it could be argued that these heavy-touring Texans are a bit too rooted in tradition for that kind of airplay anyway. And Rogers seems to take great pride in that reality. "Everything you hear right now on stage is being done by one of us onstage," he said at one point, with a smile. "That's all I'm sayin'."
After opening with "This Time Around," Rogers told the crowd, "Hey, long live country music. If you know how to two-step, let's do it, c'mon." And there were definitely people dancing as the Texans made their way through such obvious highlights as "Tonight's Not the Night (For Goodbye)," "Ten Miles Deep" and "Tequila Eyes."
They're all great players, Brady Black's fiddle solo often seguing directly Geoffrey Hill's guitar leads. And Rogers is a brilliant front man, underselling all his punchlines just enough to make them that much more effective, whether setting up "One More Goodbye" by talking to the people staying in the camp sites about the sun and how "when it goes down, you think about making some poor choices" or sending out another song with "This song is for anybody whose ex is here tonight. Camping out next to your campsite. Being all weird." That's good stuff.