Even before they walk onstage, entertainers can usually sense the mood of an audience. Of course, it’s not that difficult to gauge the mood when you’re playing to thousands of college students celebrating spring break on the sands of Daytona Beach, Fla.
Rascal Flatts ’ concerts routinely take on a party atmosphere, but they took it to a higher level during their recent performance at Daytona Beach. The concert provided the trio with their second CMT concert special, Rascal Flatts: Melt on the Beach. The show draws its name from the trio’s latest album, Melt.
The band members — Jay DeMarcus, Gary LeVox and Joe Don Rooney — knew exactly what awaited them at the concert taping. After all, they’ve spent time in Daytona Beach during spring break.
“I spent a lot of time there in high school,” LeVox adds, “my sophomore, junior and senior years. I went down there for those years — ’86, ’87, ’88 spring break. I don’t remember much of it. It was typical high school stuff. You go out there and lose your mind for a week, go broke and have to find a Western Union to get money sent back to you from your folks.”
DeMarcus says, “We were real in touch with what they [the audience] were about when they got there for a show.”
Rascal Flatts are becoming veterans of televised concerts. The new special follows one taped in Hollywood, Rascal Flatts: Live From the Sunset Strip. Because Melt on the Beach was taped outdoors, it created some additional challenges.
“We’re really picky people,” Rooney says. “When we do our records, we want everything to be as good as possible. When we do our live show, we want the same thing, so we really took our time with figuring out what set we wanted and everything.”
When asked if they recalled any vivid images as they looked into the crowd of party animals, DeMarcus laughs, “None that we can say.” LeVox notes, “There were a lot of cowboys out that night.” DeMarcus adds, “And some cowgirls.”
Fans will have to watch the special to find out more about the hot tubs that were operating during the concert, but the show also includes some musical surprises. Rascal Flatts played their hits, but they also delved into some classic rock nuggets from the ‘70s.
Rooney explains, “We did ‘Foreplay/Long Time’ by Boston, into Edgar Winter’s ‘Free Ride’ and back into the Boston thing. It’s kind of a little medley of two songs that just rocked. It was a lot of fun. The crowd went nuts. It was wonderful.”
The party for Rascal Flatts really began after the concert, right?
“We left,” LeVox says. “I had a 110-mile drive back to Jacksonville to fly out, and those guys got on the bus.”
“We came back to Nashville,” Rooney added. “We’d been hitting it pretty hard up until that point.”
Having recuperated from the roadwork during a few weeks at home, Rascal Flatts have returned to the road as part of Brooks & Dunn’s Neon Circus and Wild West Show tour. Although this marks the third year of Brooks & Dunn’s innovative tour, recent rehearsals at a Nashville amphitheater provided Rascal Flatts their first glimpse of what the shows will be like with Brad Paisley, Aaron Lines and Jeff Bates. “We’ve been on tour ourselves with Toby Keith for so long, we haven’t had a chance to see the Neon Circus yet,” DeMarcus explains.
DeMarcus, LeVox and Rooney are looking forward to the tour that kicks off Friday (April 25) in Green Bay, Wis.
“Brooks & Dunn — Ronnie and Kix — have such high energy, and we have a high-energy show,” LeVox says. “They’re just top notch people. They really run a class-A organization. We just wanted to be a part of it. They’re legends and heroes in our mind, so it will be great to be out on the road with them.”