Lovers Lane
Rialto Square Theatre
Avondale Music Hall
ATT Internet 75

Jason Aldean & Luke Bryan live!

| August 22, 2012

The country blowout show at First Midwest Bank Amphitheater in Tinley Park in front of a wall-to-wall crowd on Saturday night was a bit confusing.

Both Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan are big name stars with awards and album/i-Tunes sales to prove it. While this was billed as Aldean’s tour, it was tough to figure out who took second banana status.

Much of the confusion stems from the artists and their contrasting styles. Bryan is a hip-shimmying, ass-shaking performer, but really a songwriter underneath. Aldean, on the other hand, is a no-BS entertainer that dabbles in writing.

Bryan, (who was the lead-in for Aldean), just happens to be a spring break party in the making. He is constantly moving: Jumping up on amps, tossing picks, and slowing down only long enough to put his John Hancock on a fans poster. He’s got some dance moves rarely seen in public and are usually reserved for family weddings. The set list wound through11 songs that started strong with his 2010 release “Rain Is A Good Thing” and worked back with “Country Man” and the 2007 tune “Someone Else Calling You Baby.” He briefly took things out of fifth gear to sing “Drinkin’ Beer and Wastin’ Bullets” before doing a nice job melding his “Do I” with a cover of Journey’s of “Faithfully.” Things then morphed into a full audience sing-along with “Drunk on You.” To say this is anything less than an evolution in country music is not seeing the big picture. Can anyone imagine Garth Brooks doing Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and then close with “I Don’t Want This Night To End” and a 10-minute version of “Country Girl (Shake it For Me)?”

On the other hand, Jason Aldean just stands up and plays it hard and plays it loud. There are no fancy dance moves or the easy crowd-pleasing tactics like grabbing some guy from the fifth row to show off his drunkin dance moves. Aldean was on a mission and got down to business with “Johnny Cash,” “Big Green Tractor,” and one of his early hits “Amarillo Sky.” He wound through 16 songs during the night including “Dirt Road Anthem,” another example of the crossover, this time into rap. Who would have ever though that a country/rap song would climb up the charts? He ended his night with Kid Rock’s tune “Cowboy” and his own “Hicktown.” If those two didn’t send the crowd into the cool, reefer-smelling Tinley Park night with their ears ringing, nothing would.

Up-and-comer Rachel Farley warmed up the crowd with a short, sexy set between the annoying DJ DeeJay Silver. At only 17, she’s recently released her debut CD The Truth and with her spunk, one would expect to see her as a headliner in the future.

This may have been Jason Aldean’s tour, but like his song “My Kinda Party,” it had something for everyone. Sure, the rock aficionados can’t get behind anything labeled country. But, take away a few southern accents and get by some of the bumper-sticker anthems and is this any different than the music you were playing when the old man yelled up the stairs to “turn that shit down?”

— Brian Ormiston

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Category: Featured, Live Reviews, Weekly

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