Heading into the North Charleston Coliseum Saturday night, I saw surprisingly few cowboy hats, but a shockingly huge entourage of vehicles. We counted an endless line of tractor trailers emblazoned with a picture of Rascal Flatts, along with more tour buses than you’d think — these guys are definitely in the big time. My heart broke when I walked in just as opener Jessica Simpson was walking off the stage (how short was her set?) but I felt much better when I was escorted down to my front-row seats. The concert started off with a bang — literally — and I almost ducked for cover as an explosion of light and sound rang out across the Coliseum. Gary LeVox (in a sequined ensemble), Jay DeMarcus (the jokester of the group), and Joe Don Rooney (looking hot as usual), along with their band of mostly South Carolina-based musicians, played a mix of songs from their forthcoming album Unstoppable, as well as older crowd-pleasers like “These Days” and “Bob That Head.” They said they’d give us our money’s worth, and that they did, with an energetic two-hour long performance. The stage reached far out into the crowd, and the guys kept moving the whole time, interacting with the starry-eyed audience. LeVox even brought an adorable little cowgirl onstage for one song, after which DeMarcus talked at length about how they love visiting South Carolina because the girls wear such tight, short skirts, then complain when guys stare. People ate it up, while some reveled in the irony. The night ended with a shower of confetti and patriotic-colored balloons, and the entertainment continued as I watched people scramble for a keepsake. They proudly carried the giant balloons to their cars, then seemed heartbroken when they popped. Oh, so sad. —Erica Jackson