Concert review: Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan
blog by Kathryn Przybyla • August 27, 2012 @ 11:07am
This weekend wrapped up another lively show at Darien Lake with two of country music’s biggest stars, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan. Having seen neither of these performers live before, I was intrigued to see if the Georgia natives lived up to their hype—and they certainly did. Most of Western New York was just as curious, seeing as this show set a record for being the fastest-selling country concert in Darien Lake history.
According to Live Nation, Aldean sold out the 21,800 seat venue a staggering two months before the performance.
Expecting a bit of a crowd, I arrived at Darien Lake around 6 p.m., after waiting in venue traffic for about 30 minutes. Even with the new parking restrictions and regulations, traffic flowed slowly but smoothly with cops directing cars instead of just Darien Lake employees.
Getting to my seat for the show, Dee Jay Silver was already entertaining the crowd with a mix of country tracks, top 40 and hip hop hits. The first time I’ve ever seen a DJ on stage at a country show, it was a great addition to keep the crowd busy.
Then as the lights dimmed, Luke Bryan took the stage and opened with “Rain is a Good Thing”—the party had officially started.
“Who’s feeling frisky tonight?” Bryan asked as he went into his 2008 hit, “Country Man.” Slowing it down, we heard “Someone Else Calling You Baby,” his new single, “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” and “Drinking Beer and Wasting Bullets.”
A piano was brought out for Bryan, as he teased the crowd with the intro to Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend,” but the teen pop stopped there. A cover of Journey’s “Faithfully” broke up the set nicely with a track most fans weren’t expecting and had everyone singing the “whoa-oh-oh-oh” part.
Ending his set with arguably his biggest hits, Bryan eased into “Drunk On You,” and finished the night with a bang. “All My Friends Say,” “I Don’t Want This Night to End” and “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” had fans dancing in the aisles and beyond warmed up for Aldean who was coming on stage soon.
There is no denying how contagious Bryan’s enthusiasm and stage presence is during his shows. Rocking a black v-neck, skinny jeans and his signature backwards baseball cap, Bryan was all over the stage, working that country-boy charm. He interacted with the audience all night, even bringing a “country man” on stage to shake it for the ladies—great moves, Rich.
Next up was the man they all came to see. With six million albums sold and nine No. 1 singles, calling him a “country superstar” doesn’t even begin to explain the impact this guy has on the music industry.
Opening with “Johnny Cash,” “Big Green Tractor” and “Amarillo Sky,” I must have heard “this is my favorite song” 20 times that night from surrounding fans. Aldean has a great eye for collaborations and writing talent, having brought on some of the best to create his most recent albums and the success is evident.
“I’ve been waiting on this show for awhile. I’ve played here enough times to know you guys from New York are crazy,” Aldean said before heading into his 2010 hit, “Crazy Town.” Talking a bit about his new album due out in October of this year, “Night Train,” he then lead into that album’s first single “Take a Little Ride.”
Mid-tempo fan favorites, “Fly Over States,” “Tattoos On This Town” and “Relentless” slowed things down a bit before a cool version of “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” featuring Kelly Clarkson. As we saw at the Brad Paisley show when a virtual version of Carrie Underwood appeared on stage for “Remind Me,” Ms. Clarkson also made an appearance Saturday night.
Honestly, I don’t really mind the pre-recorded female vocals and video from these duets. I’d prefer to hear the original singers belting out their songs than a random back up singer adding vocals live. The technology that I’ve seen at a few country shows this year has been beyond anything I’ve ever witnessed—impressive, guys.
Knowing there might be a bit of a jam on the way out of the concert, I headed out to my car around 10:30 p.m. after “Dirt Road Anthem” and “My Kinda Party”—arguably two of Aldean’s biggest hits. Directed out the back exit, I actually waited in minimal traffic to leave the venue and made it home within 35 minutes of the leaving the show.
Honestly, this was one of the best experiences I’ve had at a Darien Lake show in terms of parking, etc.
While many—including myself—were a little nervous about the new traffic regulations, I would consider the show an overall success. I can’t speak for anyone else, but my experience was a good one.
Going to a show at Darien Lake is a production in itself, but the lines, prices and atmosphere you’re getting into are no secret. Being with over 20,000 other fans to see a big-time artist is all part of the experience and it’s what makes these shows what they are—over the top and fantastic.
Sure there are kinks to work out, but I have no issues waiting in line to see some of the world’s best musicians. If you’re good enough to sell-out Darien Lake, you’re good enough for me.