For the first time ever, the University of Georgia’s massive Sanford Stadium hosted something other than a football game—an outdoor country concert featuring Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and others. A part of Aldean’s “Night Train” tour, this concert has been long anticipated. Tickets sold out within an hour of being open to the public.
After an afternoon of tailgating like that of a typical game day in Athens, over 60,000 concert-goers packed into the stadium to see the opening act, Thomas Rhett. A Valdosta, Ga. native, Rhett is known for his recent hits “Something to Do With My Hands” and “Beer With Jesus.” As the crowd settled after the battle to reach their seats, the second act took the stage.
Jake Owen, the long-haired Florida country star, bounced around the stage barefoot with an energy that kept the crowd both amused and entertained. His famous songs “Barefoot Bluejean Night,” “Alone With You” and “The One That Got Away” were sung so loudly by the audience that the whole stadium echoed the lyrics, bringing a smile to Owen’s face. He was amazed. After reluctantly leaving the stage, Jake Owen handed off the microphone to DJ Silver, who mixed country songs during the setup for the next act. Luke Bryan, the AMC Entertainer of the Year and a native of Leesburg, Georgia, came out to a roaring audience minutes later.
With numerous CMT Awards, American Country Awards, AMC Awards and other nominations under his belt, Luke Bryan was the reason many of the concert-goers bought tickets. Without breaking a smile, he rocked through his popular songs “I Don’t Want This Night To End,” “Drunk On You,” “Do I” and “If You Ain’t Here To Party,” even surprising everyone with part of Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite.” It is clear why Bryan won Entertainer Of The Year, and the 60,000 standing and screaming fans witnessed this reason in person throughout his performance.
Following Luke Bryan, a tough feat, was done so in stride by the headliner Jason Aldean. From Macon, Ga., the country music star sported a UGA Bulldogs t-shirt and took a much more relaxed approach to his performance. However, the audience remained standing. Playing both songs off his new album Night Train as well as the classics “Big Green Tractor,” “Fly Over States,” “Crazy Town” and many more, Aldean’s set never had a dull moment. Still, the night had even more in store for the audience. During the song “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” international pop-star Kelly Clarkson—featured on the album version—appeared as a hologram and sang her part to the extreme excitement of all in attendance.
The crowd, buzzing with excitement, was slammed with yet another surprise as Atlanta-based rapper Ludacris ran out on stage to rap in Aldean’s song “Dirt Road Anthem.” In that moment, the concert was transformed from great to legendary. During Jason Aldean’s last couple of songs, four massive flamethrowers located around the stage shot streams of fire three stories into the sky, sending a heat wave to those even in the upper deck and ensuring that this concert will not be soon forgotten.
And, just like that, the show was over. The concert lasted a total of four and a half hours, each one full of extreme musical fusion. The fully content concert-goers filed out of the stadium with looks of excitement, happiness and pure disbelief. The real question is, will it happen again next year?