Concert Review: Rascal Flatts bridges gap between pop and country for small Toronto crowd
The Rascal Flatts occupy a weird space within pop music. Despite their widespread, mainstream popularity, they are seen as too country to truly be a pop band but are also rejected by a segment of country music fans for a style of music that is heavily pop-influenced.
The trio made their way to the Molson Amphitheatre on Thursday night, but minus the usual hardcore following that has packed the Amp for shows like Lady Antebellum and Tim McGraw and will surely return en masse for Jason Aldean on September 17. The Rascal Flatts drew just 9,000 fans for this stop on their Riot tour, a crowd that looked all the more sparse with many fans opting for the lawns and leaving plenty of the 300- and 400-level seating empty.
Too bad, as Gary LeVox, Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney put on one hell of a show for those in attendance. The group covered a lot of ground over a 21-song set that spanned eight of their albums, showcasing their entire music-making history while also cementing the blend of new and old with covers that ranged from modern hit-makers like Hozier (“Take Me to Church”) to classic rock artists like the Bee Gees (“To Love Somebody”). They also wore their country music pedigree proudly with a cover of “God Bless the Broken Road” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and finished with their popular take on Tom Cochrane’s iconic “Life is a Highway”.
From their own collection, the Rascal Flatts got the crowd on their feet early with hits “What Hurts the Most” and “Love You Out Loud”. After a few offerings from their 2014 release “Rewind”, the band got back to cranking out crowd pleasers like “These Days” and “My Wish”.
Altogether, there was a refreshing mix of musical styles that suited different tastes all night long. The hardcore country fans in attendance would have enjoyed the country twang of the banjo-infused tracks “Me and My Gang” and “Banjo”, while pop lovers would have no doubt been delighted by “Summer Nights” and their inescapably catchy “Life is a Highway” cover. Those that weren’t in attendance on Thursday night certainly missed out.