George Strait Country Music FestivalDateline: 05/18/99
The George Strait Country Music Festival made a stop in Oakland, CA on May 9, 1999. My husband agreed to take me to the concert, so off we started at 10:30 am on Sunday morning to head south to the Network Associates Coliseum.
First let me point out that crowds are not my thing, and I wasn't looking forward to that aspect of the day. Arriving on the scene, I saw that I was not disappointed in my thinking that this would be very crowded indeed. We were herded into a row in the parking lot, and we left the car to get in the line to enter the stadium, with our backpack. Knowing that no bottles, cans or food was allowed, I didn't have any of those things, only a sweatshirt jacket for the evening and film, and discs for my digital camera. Twenty minutes later we were in.
Click on the photos to see the full-sized versions.
We headed to the main level and looked for a way down to the field. After making a quick stop at the bathroom first, we then headed down to the field which had a good portion of empty seats still. We were almost to our seats when Asleep at the Wheel began their set.
We found our seats, which were in a row way, way in the back, and to our dismay, the seats were cheap plastic and tied to each other with plastic ties and our seats were in the middle of the row, so there was no way to move the chair in any direction to get a bit more room. Neither my husband, Darrell nor myself are small people, and we were not looking forward to the people coming on either side of us later on.
I must say I enjoyed listening to Asleep at the Wheel perform. From as far back as we were, you couldn't see them well, so pretty much, we watched the video screen behind them. The applause they got was polite, but I think they deserved much better. People were still arriving, so that was probably some of it. I wasn't able to get a set list for any of the artists, but I remember them singing "Route 66," "Big Balls in Cowtown," and "Back in the Saddle."
After a 30 minute break, Mark Wills took the stage. Mark let us know we were in for a great day of country music. He sang most of his hits, including my favorite of his, "Wish You Were Here," "I Do," "Don't Laugh at Me," and his current single, "She's in Love".
Again, there was a 30 minute break, and next up was Jo Dee Messina. Jo Dee was really energetic, and I liked the way she chatted with the audience about things. She sang her hits, "Bye Bye," "I'm Alright," "Stand Beside Me," and the touching "Even God Must Get the Blues".
By this time Darrell and I are sick and tired of being squished in the middle of the row in the hot sun (we forgot the sunblock.. :X). We saw that there were plenty of seats on the very last section on the second level in the shade, so we got up, climbed over 14 people to the aisle, and headed slowly up to the second level. Thank God for the 30 min break between artists.
We got settled into some seats and about 10 minutes later, Kenny Chesney started his set. He played for about 50 minutes, and up until then everyone had only played 30 minutes each. Kenny had great repoire with the audience, and I thoroughly enjoyed him. He sang "She's Got It All," "That's Why I'm Here," and the crowd-favorite (mine as well), the song that stayed on Billboard's Country Singles chart for 6 weeks in a row, "How Forever Feels".
Another 30 minutes, and a yummy personal-size, Round Table Pizza later, the Dixie Chicks exploded onto the purple-carpeted stage. They played such favorites as "Wide Open Spaces," "I Can Love You Better," and a taste of what's to come with the sassy "Sin Wagon," as well as a great hoe-down, "Roanoke" that they totally rocked with.
Unfortunately, by this time, my husband wasn't feeling well, so we had to leave. I'm sorry that I missed Tim McGraw and George Strait, but I will have the chance to see Tim and the Dixie Chicks this summer when they return to the area. I'm looking forward to that.
My take on GPC Straitland... I wasn't impressed. It seemed like a cheap flea-market with booths of silver and turquoise jewelery, and little carnival booths, where you can win stuffed animals. We went out to see what it was about between Kenny Chesney and the Dixie Chicks' sets, and Jo Dee Messina was signing autographs at the time so I got a few pics of her. Mark Wills and Kenny Chesney also signed during the day, but we didn't go out to the area before. The line was too long for autographs, or I would have tried to get Jo Dee's autograph while I was there.
All in all I enjoyed the music, though the sound quality was horrible. The field seats were really uncomfortable, and not worth $50.00 each. We were way in the back, and being in the middle of the row didn't help either. I will say this, I will never attend another festival, but that is a personal preference. The crowds were way too large and rowdy for my taste. The whole thing needed more organization for the crowds. The lines to and from the main level to the field were horrible. They had certain rows roped off to only go up and only down. The lines to the bathrooms were awful too with some women even using the men's bathrooms because the women's bathrooms were so crowded, and the lines so long. The souvenirs were plenty, and so was the cost. I guess I'm used to Garth Brooks' prices. ;)
If you don't mind crowds, tiny little chairs for the field seats, and bad sound quality, check out the George Strait Festival. I certainly don't blame George for the quality of the experience. I just don't like big crowds, and I have a big butt. ;) For someone who isn't bothered by that... doesn't mind waiting in line for bathrooms for up to 30 minutes at a time, they would have a great time. Obviously by the actions of the crowd, lots of people were enjoying themselves. A bit too much, actually for one unlucky concert-goer. As we walked out to the car to leave, we saw a car that had a broken windshield. Judging from the size of the smashed-in area, I'd say that someone threw another person on the hood of the car and their body smashed into the windshield, breaking it with the impact. :(
Be sure to check out my Java slideshows of each of the artists, plus one of the miscellaneous crowd scenes and such.
All graphics © Shel Lahman
Next week we'll have
Spotlight Artist: Collin Raye