For one fleeting moment, George Strait drew a smattering of boos and catcalls from a packed Marcus Amphitheater.
It had nothing to do with his music. Instead, it came as a result of an image of the Dallas Cowboys winning the Super Bowl during a song paying homage to his home state of Texas.
Other than that, it was a full-blown lovefest between the crowd and the venerable, 57-year-old "living legend," who headlined Summerfest Monday night.
As All-American as they come, with his well-creased Wranglers, fully-starched, button-down shirt and perfectly formed and bent black hat, Strait epitomizes the heart and soul of country music. He's as country as an old truck and muddy work boots. There's no flash, only substance; heartfelt songs about the Lone Star state, cowboys, loves lost and good times among friends.
Aside from his lyrics, Strait had only a few other words for his fans, and most of them were something along the lines of "thank you." Not that his fans minded his lack of conversation, considering the amount of music Strait packed into a roughly 90-minute set.
With little hoopla, Strait opened the show with a steady stream of hits spanning his more than three decades of work, leading off with "Baby Write this Down" and "I Just Want to Dance with You." From that point, it was one hit after another, all delivered with Strait's seemingly-permanent smile and no-nonsense delivery.
Along the way, he slowed things down with "Texas," "Heartland" and "I Hate Everything," all sung with the same steady and, for lack of a better term, methodical manner that's worked so well for so many years.
A short, but lively encore included a cover of Johnny Cash's legendary "Folsom Prison Blues."
What stands out about Strait is the timeless nature of his music. For a genre that has completely revolutionized itself over the course of the last 10 to 15 years, Strait's simple charm and from-the-heart lyrics have managed to weather the storm.
He didn't need to dance or spend time chit-chatting with his fans. That's not what they pay to see and that's not what Strait is paid to do.
Behind Strait, as always, was the Ace In The Hole Band. The 11 musicians and vocalists worked in perfect symphony with Strait and provided a seamless transistion between songs.
The night's opening acts provided an impressive contrast to Strait's traditional honkey-tonk and western swing styles.
Blake Shelton provided a great link between today's country fans and those of earlier generations. His "aw-shucks," down-on-the-farm humility -– as well as the aversion to political correctness exhibited by his hit "Sum (rhymes with 'witch')" -- had the same sort of honesty and likability with just slightly more power than Strait.
Shelton, also a funny-man, paused at one point to tell a story about asking Strait for advice on how to appeal to the latter's slightly older fan base.
"Play something they can sing along to," Shelton said was Strait's response. And to do that, Shelton played the somewhat irritating theme to the "FreeCreditReport.com" commercials … and did, in fact, get the crowd to sing along.
Behind Shelton, drummer Tracy Broussard scored points with the crowd by wearing a Brewers "retro" jersey for the show.
Up-and-comer Julianne Hough kicked off the show with a spirited set. Barely old enough for her first legal Summerfest wine cooler, Hough has some serious power in her voice and some outstanding dance moves to back it up -- you may know her better from her work on "Dancing with the Stars."