Fans make a point to travel to Omaha to see big-name country acts like Carrie Underwood -
go logo
article photo
article photo


Fans make a point to travel to Omaha to see big-name country acts like Carrie Underwood

When country concerts are booked in Omaha, Nick Erdman readies himself for a road trip.

The 32-year-old Kearney, Neb., resident has traveled to Omaha for George Strait, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert and others. It's well worth the nearly three-hour trip, he said.

The show

When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: CenturyLink Center Omaha, 455 N. 10th St.

Tickets: $46 to $66 at the CenturyLink Center box office,, Ticketmaster retail locations or by phone at 800-745-3000

Information: or 402-345-1000

Country rocks in Omaha

Country shows do well around here. Of the 79 concerts at the CenturyLink Center from mid-2008 to Carrie Underwood's show on Sunday, 27 have been headlined by country artists.

In the past few years, many country shows in the area have sold out. Here is a selection of sold-out concerts by year:

» Eric Church at Stir Concert Cove
» Taylor Swift (twice) at the CenturyLink Center
» Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard at the Holland Performing Arts Center
» Reba McEntire at the CenturyLink Center
» Kenny Chesney at the CenturyLink Center

» Lady Antebellum at the Mid-America Center

» Zac Brown Band at the CenturyLink Center
» Taylor Swift (twice) at the CenturyLink Center
» Jason Aldean at the CenturyLink Center

The reviews

How are the shows on Carrie Underwood's “Blown Away Tour?” We defer to recent reviews. (Be sure to read our review of Underwood's Omaha show in Monday's paper and on

“Here's the thing about a Carrie Underwood concert: A lot of the songs sound similar, but at least once in every one of them she'll let loose with an improbably long note that runs through more octaves than you knew existed, leaving you with your jaw on the floor.” — The (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union

“Carrie Underwood's Blown Away Tour doesn't deliver on its lofty promise. The trek's stop at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Monday included some moderately entertaining theatrics, a nice enough set list and a handful of vocal highlights. It was not, however, something that blew you away. Chalk it up as further proof that Underwood's live show remains the one glaring weakness to her game. She can crank out the hit singles and albums, win countless awards and charm TV audiences. Yet, she still can't figure out how to reach comparable heights in concert.” — San Jose Mercury News

“She makes the most lasting impression when she simply plants herself center stage and sings. Underwood has one of the most powerful voices in contemporary music, and she's learned a lot about using it since winning “American Idol” almost a decade ago. Onstage, she sounds almost exactly like her records, and she easily maneuvered the vocal acrobatics of 'Good Girl,' 'Undo It,' 'Wasted' and 'Two Black Cadillacs.' They were pristine but punchy enough to make an impact. Country, pop, whatever. She's settled firmly into her sound and exudes a bright confidence.” — Houston Chronicle

“From tough-minded good ol' girl to sentimental sweetheart, the Oklahoma native established the musical identity that, along with an amazing voice, has made her one of the most popular artists performing today.” — Portland Press-Herald

Carrie Underwood, who plays at CenturyLink Center Omaha on Sunday, is at the top of the list for many country fans, and her success is no fluke.

Country music is a huge segment of the concert business. The industry has lowered ticket prices, increased production values and packaged artists together to keep country tours selling out arenas and stadiums.

On big concert tours, artists on the rise often pair with headliners. Before Kenny Chesney was popular, he opened for Tim McGraw. And prior to topping the charts, Taylor Swift opened for McGraw and Brad Paisley.

“It's a relatively small business (community) in Nashville, and they all communicate,” said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of concert industry publication Pollstar. “Rock acts tend to blaze their own trail, and they end up being the fourth rock show in town that week. (Country artists) tend to stay out of each others' way.”

The CenturyLink Center doesn't try to book country acts any more or less than other genres, a spokeswoman said.

It helps to establish relationships with artists like Swift, who started her last two tours at the arena and sold out all four of her shows there.

“When artists keep bringing their shows back to CenturyLink Center Omaha, it tells us that we are treating them right and that our staff is doing a good job behind-the-scenes,” said spokeswoman Kristi Anderson.

Country fans are also passionate about their favorite artists, which drives ticket sales.

Many, including country fan Erdman, make frequent trips to see country shows. Erdman travels to Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming and Nebraskaland Days in North Platte, and he grew up on country music near Bayard, Neb.

“I grew up on a farm in western Nebraska — AM radio was all we had,” he said. “I really appreciate 'real' country music: Randy Rogers Band, Chancey Williams, George Strait, Jason Boland, Granger Smith are some of my favorites.”

Tony Michaels, program director and DJ at Sioux City country radio station KSUX, frequently heads to Omaha for concerts with fans and fellow hosts.

“We had a limo there for Jason Aldean,” he said. “It's so easy for us to be there, and we're pretty regular travelers to Omaha.”

Almost once a month, he said, there's a good country show going on in Omaha, Sioux City or Des Moines, which he attributed to the large number of country artists that are on tour.

“U2 only tours so much, but there are so many different country acts that do really well,” he said.

Country music also generally appeals to younger audiences. The best-selling rock acts generally appeal to baby boomers and charge a higher ticket price, while country artists are favored by younger generations, Bongiovanni said.

“They're also pretty good at pricing the tickets so that they're affordable for the markets they're playing,” Bongiovanni said. “They're not $600 Rolling Stones tickets.”

Country is most popular in the Midwest and the South, but it's popular enough in other spots to sell out football stadiums. Chesney and Swift, for example, both sold out Gillette Stadium near Boston, and Boston isn't generally considered a big country market.

Big productions with stage lights, pyrotechnics and video screens — long a staple in rock shows — have also fed into country concerts' popularity. Stage shows are more energetic, and fans respond.

“That goes back to Garth Brooks. He injected some rock 'n' roll-flavored theatrics into his performance,” Bongiovanni said. “That was fairly rare at the time for country music.”

Those kind of concerts, more of a celebration than a performance, appeal to fans such as Erdman for three reasons: “Booze and friends,” he said. “And great music.”

Contact the writer: 402-444-1557,,

Contact the writer: Kevin Coffey    |   402-444-1557    |  

Kevin covers music, whether it's pop, indie or punk, through artist interviews, reviews and trend stories. He also occasionally covers other entertainment, including video games and comic books.

Read more stories by Kevin

Contact the Omaha World-Herald newsroom

Copyright ©2014 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

Latest Stories

Coachella: Best of Day 1 includes The Replacements, Outkast
Coachella: Best of Day 1 includes The Replacements, Outkast

Rock Candy correspondents Joel Henriksen and Keith Finn check in from Indio to review Friday's top sets from the godfather of indie rock festivals.

What to watch: Series premiere of 'Tobacco Wars' on CMT
What to watch: Series premiere of 'Tobacco Wars' on CMT

Kentucky has some interesting industries: moonshine, ginseng and fire-cured tobacco. This series goes inside the high-stakes world starting with planting season.

Maha Music Festival announces lineup; might be its best yet
Maha Music Festival announces lineup; might be its best yet

August concert promises to pack Stinson Park with indie rock fans.

A saliva-inducing look at M's Pub's new happy hour
A saliva-inducing look at M's Pub's new happy hour

The downtown staple recently introduced a happy hour. And its menu's pretty amazing.

Dining review: If you're craving sushi, head to Benson's Taita
Dining review: If you're craving sushi, head to Benson's Taita

Chef Jose Dionicio has wisely refocused Taita on sushi, and the well-crafted small bites of fresh fish I tasted from his one-man sushi bar are delectable.

New Benson BBQ restaurant opens next week
New Benson BBQ restaurant opens next week

Fusion BBQ, at 7024 Maple St., focuses on American style barbecue cooking melded with international cuisines.

Nebraska's best burger determined by folks who know about this kind of thing
Nebraska's best burger determined by folks who know about this kind of thing

The Nebraska Beef Council announced the winner of its Nebraska's Best Burger contest.

Rockbrook Village restaurant Taste has a new chef
Rockbrook Village restaurant Taste has a new chef

Ryan Devitt will come to the restaurant as both a chef and partner to focus on farm-to-table style cuisine.

Over Easy will host a west Omaha block party
Over Easy will host a west Omaha block party

Over Easy is playing host to a west Omaha block party this summer.

Movie review: 'Transcendence' ends up quite ordinary
Movie review: 'Transcendence' ends up quite ordinary

“Transcendence,” a sci-fi thriller about an attempt to meld the human mind with technology, falls far short of transcendence. So far short I had to fight off sleep.

Movies Opening this week

Movie showtimes and theater listings

Read this!


Tonight in Prime Time
© 2014 Omaha World-Herald. All rights reserved