Jason Aldean Stops in NYC: One Hip-Hop Fan's Terrifying First Country Show
I had no idea who Jason Aldean was when I was asked to cover his sold-out Night Train tour. I'm a hip-hop head and aside from seeing Taylor Swift one time live -- she was awesome, by the way -- country is probably my least favorite genre right behind Gregorian chanting and Broadway show tunes. So of course, my sadistic editor thought it would be a hilarious social experiment to take the girl who covers Kendrick Lamar, Young Jeezy and French Montana, to see a guy who titled his first single "Hicktown." After some cursory research, I found out that Jason Aldean is somewhat of country's bad boy and his attempt at breaking tradition (He performed with Ludacris at the 2011 CMT Awards) has some critics haranguing him for "country turning into rap."
Intrigued, I moseyed on down to Madison Square Garden Saturday night where I was immediately greeted with, "Hey darling, where's your cowgirl hat?" Toto, I have a feeling we're re not in New York City anymore...
The Show Started Early: Jason Aldean was slated to go on at 9:30pm. In rap time, that would mean I could saunter into the venue around 10:30pm or 10:45pm, knowing that I had ample time to snag a chewy pretzel and Slush Puppie beforehand. No rap show worth its weight starts on time and only losers are punctual. Jason Aldean, on the other hand, not only kicked off his show on time, but he started one minute early. Needless to say, I did not get my chewy pretzel and was thoroughly starving for the rest of the night.
The Crowd Was Well, What You'd Expect: Some stereotypes exist for a reason and the homogenous, overwhelmingly white crowd was exactly what you'd expect from a country music show. Jason Aldean was the consummate modern day cowboy in his wide-brimmed hat, snug flannel shirt and tight jeans with chain belt and his fans were decked out similarly. Interestingly, there was a palpable feeling of pride and it seemed as if fans, double-fisting their Coors, vehemently wanted to prove just how Southern they were despite our significant proximity away from the Mason-Dixon line. "I know we didn't just have rednecks down in the South!" Aldean gleefully proclaimed at one point.
Call them what you want, but his fans came out to have fun. Throughout the night, couples (many spontaneously formed on site) danced in the aisles while others gave each other high-fives for no discernible reason. Compared to a rap show where everyone is tragically hip, mean-mugging and too cool to exude more than a requisite head now and again, I wouldn't mind a high-five once in awhile.