What to do on a Friday night? Last Friday, three of us opted for the Fun Bus, what with the seafood buffet, $5 spending money, and all the other couponed trappings ... what's not to like? I know plenty who sneer and despise Wendover, but for an opportunity to hear Little Big Town at Peppermill Concert Hall, one of the best concert halls within miles of Salt Lake City, it wasn't a hard decision for me.
One of us had a closer seat and she scooted on her way. In any event, the cheap seats we came with, plus the ones we were handed outside the concert hall, were fine. There's not a bad seat in the house. Everyone was practically onstage with the band, so close to the front and without some of the typical obstructions like lights and sound booths.
As it turned out, the extra two tickets the gentleman gave us were next to our three purchased seats. Shortly after we found our "section," my friend headed for the bathroom. And he was gone a long time, so I was worried the usher wouldn't allow him back in without one of our five tickets - all in my purse.
My friend wasn't particularly a country fan, whereas I'd have to admit, I am. And he was pleasantly surprised. "This is 'feel good' music," he noted. "Yes, it is," I had to agree. Little Big Town's ambitious lineup of songs was appealing, with catchy tunes and heartwarming lyrics. The band's website explains: "A lot of time gets spent pouring over lyrics and how to deliver a song." And deliver, they did.
The concert itself couldn't have been more perfect. Little Big Town - Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook, and Phillip Sweet - united onstage for just over 100 minutes of four-part country rock harmonies. The house was nearly packed (except our "section"), the band played without much filler conversation in between songs, and when they did stop, it was to interact with the audience. A woman in a pink shirt in the front who danced (by herself) to every single song got special recognition, and the band pointed out a couple who married at the Country Throwdown at USANA Amphitheater earlier this year.
Songs such as "Why Oh Why" and "Bones" opened the set, but then the band mellowed the audience with "You Can't Have Everything," and "Wounded." LBT performed in front of their trademark living room stage backdrop, complete with black and white paisley print curtains. The band displayed infectious enthusiasm, and showcased the harmonizing their fans have come to expect. Towards the end of the program, LBT cranked up the energy in the hall with their acclaimed "Runaway Train" and "Little White Church," and "Boondocks." The poignant final number, "Lean Into It," explained the art of getting through tough times:
There’s a strong wind blowing
I push on it pushes back
It’s a hard time
But I know I’ll get through it
Just gotta lean into it
Just gotta lean into it
After the concert, the three of us found a couple of nickel slot machines near the stage at the Rainbow Casino. The bus hostess hinted we'd find an excellent cover band, and voila, they began to play country and rock favorites as we sat down. Such timing. A sizable crowd danced and we would have too, if I had been able to get my machine to cash out. Maybe next time.
The plan: going again, sans concert tickets. Worst case scenario: dinner, $5 back, and grooving to the band at the Rainbow. Bonus: the chance to buy deeply discounted tickets and get to see the show. And somehow going to Wendover makes one glad to get back to Dodge. Not a bad thing, to say the least.