Click here to view a photo showcase of the Red Sky Music Festival's opening day.
On a hot July day, dozens of music fans turned into hundreds, which ballooned into thousands.
Finally, almost 14,000 fans gathered at Red Sky Music Festival on Wednesday to see headliner Rascal Flatts.
At first, fans turned out to see country singer-songwriter Logan Mize and young pop-country band The Farm perform outside on the festival's B stage.
Many folks stayed in the shade under the food and beverage tents while Mize and The Farm performed, but several hundred stayed out in the sun to watch the bands play.
Attendance at the festival was greatly improved over its inaugural year, even though this year's event is scaled down.
Later, on the main stage in TD Ameritrade Park, Rascal Flatts performed songs such as “Bless the Broken Road,” “Summer Nights” and the band's cover of “Life Is a Highway” for screaming thousands of fans.
“Omaha! How ya feelin' tonight?” asked bassist Jay DeMarcus. “It feels so good to be back with you guys.”
Fans were happy the band was back in town after so short an absence. Women danced in the aisles and dozens of couples slow-danced during songs such as “Bless the Broken Road.”
Though the fans loved it, the concert was very similar to the show the band played here last year. Some parts of the concert were poorly choreographed.
The band had a “request hour” where they played single verses of songs shouted out by the crowd. While it was heartwarming that they sang “Happy Birthday” for a woman in the audience, I was baffled that they only sang single verses of three of Rascal Flatts' most popular songs: “Mayberry,” “I'm Movin' On” and the band's first hit, “Prayin' for Daylight.”
I found it sad that during the song “Banjo,” the actual banjo parts were overwhelmed by the group's electric guitars.
Also, a drum solo by a member of the backing band took up time in the set that would have been better spent by the band singing another song.
Of course, it was still an entertaining show. DeMarcus, singer Gary LeVox and guitarist Joe Don Rooney are all talented musicians. Although LeVox almost always takes the lead, all three are excellent singers and Rooney's guitar work is stellar.
Fans hollered when the band started songs such as “What Hurts the Most,” and it says something about the popularity of a band when so many people will brave the heat only a year after the group was here last.
Though temperatures hovered near 100 degrees during the day, no one suffered any heat-related illnesses, a festival representative said.
Undoubtedly, more people will be back later this week when Brad Paisley headlines Red Sky on Friday night and Def Leppard shares the stage with Poison on Saturday.
Fair warning: Highs are forecast up to 99 degrees, so drink plenty of water. Sheesh.
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