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Stagecoach 2009: Little Big Town a sprawling metropolis of underwhelming

April 25, 2009 |  8:33 pm

Little_Big_Town__ Every year, Stagecoach saves a sundown set for one of its most openly pop-inclined acts. In previous years, it went to Sugarland and Taylor Swift, who each went on to sell a few dozen records or so in the remainder of the year.

So this Saturday magic hour set bodes well for the career of  Little Big Town, whose flaxen tresses, GQ jawlines and sleek harmonies will surely do some damage on CMT in 2009. However, on the sliding scale of such things, it’s safe to say that when it comes to either songsmith joie de vivre or insouciant pluck, they’re no Sugarland or Taylor Swift.

Little Big Town are dutiful pupils of the Nashvillian Southern pop-rock archetype that sounds so good in the hands of a Jason Aldean or a Brad Paisley (whose cameo with Darius Rucker yielded the biggest cheers so far today).  The template leaves a lot of room for wit and storytelling, and though Little Big Town certainly has a knack for the kind of watertight choruses that send Southern Methodist sorority sisters into fits of Corona’ed glee, this didn’t feel like a star-making turn. They were almost too efficient in their bullet-pointed signifiers: party Saturday, church Sunday, ad infinitum.

No one’s asking for searing narratives -- Sugarland can make backseat makeouts seem downright cinematic, and Taylor Swift has starry-eyed emo-country on lock – but while there were singalongs aplenty, nothing stuck with the insistence of a “Love Story." Maybe that’s exactly why Little Big Town works for people, as their impressionable tunes can easily be imbued with the emotions of whoever is listening. But as songs, and as an act, it all fell a little flat when the country-pop crossover was theirs to take.

-August Brown

Photo credit: Getty Images