The audience was partying long before they made it into Dos Equis Pavilion to see country music star Jason Aldean for his High Noon Neon Tour on Saturday night. On the way to the entry line for the bag check, patrons were upending beers in one hand, a full beer on deck in the other hand. A woman at the metal detector station continued to insist she is always allowed to bring beer into the venue and considered this new policy unfair. Scalpers stood outside the grounds yelling their deals as groups congregated in shade openly drinking before stepping through the gates — the whole scene more akin to Bourbon Street than Fair Park.
Luke Combs performed for the sold-out crowd before Aldean. His relaxed but passionate demeanor onstage was a sharp contrast from the amphitheater that was on their constantly moving feet. Arms above their heads, the crowd clapped along to the beat of Combs’ music, dancing with one another and singing the lyrics nose-to-nose with the person to their left or right. The screams of approval were so loud after each song that it was questionable if this momentum, this energy, could be maintained for the hours to come.
Some in attendance seemed to come for the spectacle more than the acts themselves, as was the case with the drunk woman loudly cheering how great the concert was, only to immediately ask regarding Combs on stage, “Is that Jason Aldean?” When told that no, it wasn’t, she plopped down in her chair, confiding to her seatmate that this show was “bullshit.”
She was a minority with that feeling. The audience in the pit had their faces washed in blue light, singing along with heads tilted back and eyes closed, relying on the body behind them to steady their balance, making it seem like they were being baptized at the altar of Combs.
Combs, sweat dripping along his temples and collecting in his beard, asked the crowd if they ever had someone break up with them that was their best friend. The audience cheered loudly, knowing that Combs’ hit song "Hurricane" was soon to be played. The deafening roar from the crowd as "Hurricane" rang out seemed unsustainable and yet only continued to grow until the song was finished.
When Aldean and his band’s imminent appearance were announced with a black and white video playing on the stage, Dos Equis exploded. The screen lifted to reveal the band, who walked down the set’s ramp and found their places. Aldean popped up from the top of the stage and the crowd momentarily became a mob — their emotion was high. Flashes from phones pierced through the alcohol-filled Mason jars held overhead, creating spirals of light to complement the neon laden stage.
Aldean, wearing a signature low-tipped cowboy hat and sleeveless pearl snap shirt, moved steadily on the stage, pacing to give all of his fans moments to press harder and be closer to the stage. He gravitated continually to center stage, seemingly more at home and satisfied with planting himself in front of the mic.
The rowdy crowd responded well to Aldean’s popular "Gettin’ Warmed Up," the sharp electric guitar riffs evoking the sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Aldean’s sound is respectful of the lineage of country music while spiking it with classic rock and touch of hip-hop. It’s a mix that brought in a younger crowd that could, whenever Aldean cued them, sing his songs for him at any point in the composition.
Aldean could also show a softer side with songs like "A Little More Summertime," that had the entirety of the amphitheater singing along almost against their own will. Big burly guys who looked like they were off-duty from something that involved weapons did a weepy-eyed shuffle during the ballad. They would sing a few bars, sniffle, take a gulp from their Mason jar, and repeat the process.
At one point in the evening Aldean teased his fans with an appearance from Miranda Lambert before he started the song she’s featured on, "Drowns the Whiskey." They were let down, only a little, when he said she wasn’t coming and they were stuck with only him, but they recovered quickly.
Aldean gave the crowd a solid performance while sharing moments of his past, reminiscing on the days he came through Texas to play at Billy Bob’s and Texas Stadium. To cheers he promised early on to play songs from all over his body of work, but that he wasn’t going to waste the crowd’s time by talking for a long time between each song. He understood that people paid money, “to hear music, not to hear me talk,” but the crowd was pleased the entire night with anything he chose to do.
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