It Happened in OKC: Turnpike Troubadours Sell Out an Arena

photo: Rob Brown

The Turnpike Troubadours have played some big venues in the past. Performing at Rodeo Houston in March of 2019 at the cavernous NRG Stadium was definitely a career highlight, even if it was still very much a built-in crowd surrounding the rodeo. They’ve also played in arena-sized venues opening for bigger names in the past, and they played in front of some 20,000 patrons at Under The Big Sky Fest in Montana earlier this summer as headliners.

But on Saturday night, November 12th, the wild popularity that the boys from Oklahoma have been enjoying ever since they came back from an indefinite hiatus was given it’s ultimate test. Could they headline an arena on their own? Not only did the Turnpike Troubadours fill Oklahoma City’s Paycom Center, they officially sold it out.

It was only back on April 8th when the Turnpike Troubadours officially reunited at their familiar haunt, Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, capacity 1,800. At that time, it was still a hypothetical if the band could hold things together, let alone succeed in a new era. But during their hiatus and the pandemic, the appetite for the Turnpike Troubadours only grew exponentially. Then when they began playing shows again, their energy level and the enthusiasm of the crowd was at an all time high, propelling them forward.

Turnpike did have a little help filling all the seats at Paycom Center on Saturday. Opening the show was Morgan Wade, who is enjoying her own swelling success. Blackberry Smoke are no slackers either, regularly drawing large crowds in their own right. But another stat that reflects just how massive the Turnpike Troubadours have become is how the band broke the all-time sales record for merch during the show. According to the venue, no band has ever sold more merchandise at the arena in 20 years than Turnpike did Saturday night.

The Turnpike Troubadours performed 19 songs total at Paycom, and left the crowd sanctified. It was the cap off to a big weekend for Turnpike, who on Friday (11-11) were officially inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame along with Wade Hayes and Jim Paul Blair. The band played “Every Girl,” “The Bird Hunters,” and others for the capacity crowd at the Muskogee Civic Center.

It might be a while before the Turnpike Troubadours are able to fill arenas to capacity in places further out from the Red Dirt homeland. But right now, there is no hotter band in that world, despite having been around for going on 15 years. In fact, they just announced they will be playing the 18,000-capacity Simmons Bank Arena in North Little Rock, Arkansas on February 24th with The Avett Brothers and The Wood Brothers. From here on out, it may be more arenas than less for Turnpike.

Saving Country Music contributor Rob Brown of Brofoto Productions was at the Paycom Center Saturday night to capture the spectacle. You can find his photos below.

Set List:

Every Girl
Before The Devil Knows We’re Dead
The Bird Hunters
Good Lord Lorrie
Morgan Street
A Tornado Warning
Winding Stair
Pay No Rent
Gin, Smoke, Lies
Whole Damn Town
Kansas City Southern
Diamonds and Gasoline
All Your Favorite Bands (RC Edwards)
Long Hot Summer Day
House Fire
Something To Hold On To

Morgan Wade opens the show
Blackberry Smoke
Kyle Nix
Evan Felker
Ryan Engleman
Hammerin’ Hank Early
Gabriel Pearson
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