At the California Mid-State Fair, Saturday, July 28.

Do you mind if we get sappy on you?” singer Chris Daughtry asked the 6,000-plus fans who showed up last Saturday to hear him perform at Paso Robles’s Mid-State Fair. The band had already ripped through six rocking tunes before slowing the pace a bit with the love song “What About Now.” One more quiet song followed-Chris sang a fabulous, spare version of Soundgarden’s “Fell on Black Days,” accompanied only by an acoustic guitar-and then it was right back to straight-up rock. And damn good rock at that.

By Matt Straka

Chris Daughtry

Daughtry was on fire from the moment the group stepped onstage, opening the concert with a sharp rendition of “Crashed” from their eponymous debut album. After that, it was the gritty “What I Want,” “Used To,” and then the hit, “It’s Not Over.” Daughtry has assembled a band with the musical chops to match his remarkable vocal talent, which translated to a tight, clean performance.

With only one album, Daughtry’s repertoire is limited, but the singer kept things interesting by changing up the melodies and interacting with the crowd. He had the audience help out with vocals on a few tunes and made a request for “the rock cliche thing” of holding up lights during the song “Home,” which, accompanied by the neon gleam from the carnival rides set just outside the stadium, made a brilliant kaleidoscopic glow.

Musical prowess aside, Daughtry still has the blush of a newly discovered artist, thankful for and amazed by his good fortune. He was enthusiastic and appreciative, and, despite a debut CD that has sold well into the millions and his considerable fame following his stint on American Idol, he didn’t have a rock-star attitude; he repeatedly thanked the crowd for coming out, for buying the album, and for being “the best California audience” he’s played to thus far.

Although it was a bit of a drive to the fair, the payoff was well worth it; Daughtry proved to be a formidable presence. Add to the fantastic evening concert an afternoon of hanging out at the fair eating churros, mingling with livestock, and soaking up the carnival fun, and a summer’s day doesn’t get much better.

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