Not quite Nashville

Finally, a moment on stage without Hayden Panettiere.

Finally, a moment on stage without Hayden Panettiere.

Boot-scootin’ bummer: It’s a Friday night at Stoney Inn on Del Paso Boulevard, and amid a room packed tight with ten-gallon hats and Daisy Dukes, my sister is nearly laid out by a tipsy cowgirl who’s struggling with the two-step.

My sister gives me a frown, an expression that reads: “I could be catching up on 30 Rock right now, and instead, I am doing this.

We don’t especially belong here, and the reason that I have brought her to this place, to our first country-music show, is tenuous at best. I’m not, historically, a country-music listener. But I do watch Nashville. Which maybe isn’t that great. But its star, Connie Britton, was on Friday Night Lights, and my lady crush that developed during that time persists in a serious way. (What moral fortitude! What hair!)

Anyway. A few weeks back, Nashville featured a song of one Thomas Rhett, who just so happens to be playing the Stoney Inn before he goes on tour with one Jason Aldean, and while this isn’t exactly the same as being on the set of the show, it might sort-of maybe resemble it.

It’s also the case that anyone raised in Folsom harbors, if secretly, a quiet desire to do cowboy things, because we all spent every Fourth of July at the Folsom Pro Rodeo. This is a fact. Plus, Rhett’s website claims that his music is traditional country influenced by turn-of-the-century hip-hop; his bio cites influences such as Coolio and Common. I am convinced that the confluence of these circumstances will result in an amusing evening.

The music starts at 8 p.m. There are three opening acts interspersed with at least half the crowd line dancing to what I’m almost certain is a countryfied version of T-Pain’s “Apple Bottom Jeans.”

By about 10:45 p.m., Thomas Rhett still hasn’t started, but my sister and I are no longer able to avoid standing in line for the women’s bathroom, which has one stall. One. For a room with a capacity of 237. (Sketchy, right? Where are SN&R’s investigative journalists when you need them?) There are about 10 women ahead of us and five behind us, and the collective feeling in line is one of desperation.

At one point, a man affiliated with the venue comes over to the two blondes in front of us and asks if they’d like to come upstairs to use the restroom—Thomas Rhett is still up there; the meet-and-greet is over, but they can use the toilet. The girls are young and this man is not, and they seem a little creeped out. I promptly volunteer my sister and I as replacements.

The man turns and gives us a once over. I’m looking pretty bookish, and my sister looking pretty comic bookish, and he’s markedly unexcited about this, but he walks us over to the stairs anyway.

We’re not allowed to go up, though, because at that very moment, Rhett is in fact on his way down. A life-size cardboard cutout of three men in black cowboy hats is hastily placed in front of us—an act that can only be interpreted as an effort to prevent a couple of crazed fangirls from trying any funny business on Mr. Rhett.

Quick, heavy footsteps come down the stairs, and from the other side of the cardboard cutout I hear some woman yell, “Thomas, I love you!”

By the time we make it back out, Rhett is onstage donning a backward baseball cap and singing about Jäger, but by now, any illusion that this would be a night at the Ryman has been squelched by my traumatized bladder.

We don’t stay long enough to hear Rhett’s single, “Beer With Jesus,” which we’d been looking forward to, if only to hear Rhett make a case for Jesus choosing beer over wine. But on the upside, the night is still young, and there is plenty of time for some Tina Fey.