My brother, his friend Brandon, and myself were sitting at an outdoor venue in Vegas called the Corner Bar. It is right between Bill’s Gambling Hall and the Flamingo and it offers an elevated deck to sit at and enjoy a cold drink while watching the Vegas throngs walk every direction on the strip. Drenched in the December sunshine and getting a kick out of the people that walked by, we were having an awesome time. The hour approached 4 p.m. and even though I could have been content to sit there the rest of the night, I knew I would kick myself for a long time if I didn’t get up and start heading north on the strip.
“Glen, we have to go down to Mandalay Bay,” I told my brother as we sat in our stools. “I will regret it if I don’t see this show. “
I was referring to the American Country Awards, a mega celebration honoring the superstars of the business annually held at the Mandalay Bay. My brother graciously agreed to walk down with me even though it meant that he might have to hang by himself for a couple hours. You see, we had actually ventured to the Mandalay Bay earlier in the day and tried to get tickets. However, most of the only seats available were in the ultra expensive section and the remaining few left in the more affordable sections were obstructed views and were not together. However, the people at the box office told us to come back right before the show and check again as sometimes seats would open up.
I was prepared to just buy a single seat with an obstructed view and watch the show by myself. However, because we had waited so long I thought that option might had even passed me by. The show started at 5 p.m. and we got to the Mandalay Bay box office at around 4:35 p.m. Expecting the worst, I actually received the best case scenario. Seats actually had opened up, and good ones too! I quickly called Glen over and asked if he wanted to see the show and before he could even answer I told the ticket lady that we would take two tickets…Glen was not going to miss this with me. At $75 per ticket to see the people we listen to on the radio every day, I was not going to let either of us pass this by.
We got our tickets and ventured right to the Mandalay Bay events center. First thing I noticed upon entering besides the thousands of cowboys and cowgirls surrounding us? The pristine condition of the arena’s concourse. The place was spotless. We got to our great seats (second level, to the right of the stage) and settled in for the show. Before the show started there were several announcements over the public address system notifying us when it would start, what a great time we were in for, and that the production would be live. The voice also encouraged us to take our seats and to be loud. A few minutes before the show started, a GAC personality came out and gave us a pep talk pretty much echoing what the public address voice had said. He told us to sing along to every song, cheer loudly, and have a great time. He said if we performed all three of these things, we would have a chance to get on television. Finally, the show started…
The voice counted down to the start of the show and Luke Bryan came out and rocked the house, singing “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” It got me so pumped up and excited to have a seat at the show. Out of all the performers, he was one of my favorites. Besides Bryan, I got to see all of these other stars perform: Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Lynard Skynard + Trace Adkins, Kip Moore, Little Big Town, and Lady Antebellum. My other two top performances were by the Lynard Kkynard + Trace Adkins combo and Kip Moore.
Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth hosted the show. Although I didn’t know much about Chenoweth going in, I know a lot now, especially that she is small and that she has an unmistakable voice. The duo did a great job hosting and made me laugh a lot. I will always remember Kristin coming out on stage dressed as Honey Boo Boo.
This was my first ever awards show and let me tell you, they got it down to a science. The show started promptly at 5 p.m. and ended right at 7 p.m. I guess I expected to see more chaos and running around with set changes and stage managers trying to direct people all over the place but none of that occurred. The production ran flawlessly and set changes were quiet and quick. When a performance ended, a simple wall would close sectioning off the old set while the new set was constructed in. You ever wonder what happens during commercial breaks for audience entertainment? At the ACA’s they replayed performances on the big screens from last year’s show. At the conclusion of the old video, the voice over the public address system would countdown to the show beginning again and ask for applause.
One of my favorite parts of the experience was just to look down on all the talent that sat stage side. I enjoyed watching them interact with each other and mingle from seat to seat during the commercial breaks. Of course you had all of the major country superstars but you also had general celebrities there as well. Carmen Electra, Ron White, Penn and Teller, Natasha Bedingfield, and a couple San Francisco Giants players all presented awards. Even though I don’t get star struck, I do get a little caught up in so much talent being under one roof.
I do admit that probably after the first hour, the show started to run together for me a little bit. When you see so many stars perform and so many celebrities present in such a short time span, you get a little overwhelmed. So naturally, when I mentioned all of the performers above, I know I probably left out one or two…same goes with the presenters. I wouldn’t even dare recapping the show in fear of leaving out significant pieces of the night.
The American Country Awards will go down as a very fond memory for me. Of course the reason that predictably stands out for making this event so memorable was that I got to see my favorite musicians perform under one roof. However, it goes deeper than that. This experience was so awesome because I got to see it in my favorite city, view it in a cool venue, and share it with the one person who I would most want to. I feel very fortunate to have made this part of my Vegas experience. Don’t Blink.