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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, April 20, 2014

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In Festival Guide Reviews

Jason Aldean opened his new leg of his tour Friday at Summerfest. (PHOTO: David Bernacchi )

In Festival Guide Reviews

Aldean was a Summerfest opening act just 3 years ago. (PHOTO: David Bernacchi )

In Festival Guide Reviews

A capacity crowd sang and danced all night long. (PHOTO: David Bernacchi )

In Festival Guide Reviews

Opener Chris Young (photo: Jeff Sherman) (PHOTO: David Bernacchi )

In Festival Guide Reviews

The Marcus Amphitheater loved every minute. (photo: Jeff Sherman) (PHOTO: David Bernacchi )

Jason Aldean brings his kinda party to Summerfest

Jason Aldean will sing on Monday during Major League Baseball's Home Run Derby. He'll also suit up for the Celebrity Softball game in Phoenix. On Friday night, though, he headlined and hit it out of the park at Summerfest 2011.

Aldean, dressed in a John Cougar Mellencamp T-shirt, is more than just another rising star on the country scene. He's spent more weeks at number one than any other country artist in the past 12 months, and a capacity Marcus Amphitheater crowd danced, sang and partied hard during his energetic 75 minute set.

Sure, Aldean has all the swagger and themes of a typical country star, but he gets credit for a bit more cross over appeal than your standard country artist mainly because of his "Dirt Road Anthem" collaboration with Ludacris at the CMT Music Awards and current smash hit with Kelly Clarkson.

The dirt road was warm and full of dancing feet on Friday as Aldean brought his huge country party to Milwaukee where he'd opened for Tim McGraw just three years ago.

Kicking off the next leg of his tour that's still in support of his 2010 release "My Kinda Party," the 34 year-old rocked through his hits "Tattoos on this Town," "Johnny Cash," "She's Country," "Crazy Town," and – as I mentioned -- his current smash duet with Kelly Clarkson, "Don't You Wanna Stay?" Clarkson was featured on the jumbotron during her parts of the song.

On song five of his set, "The Truth," a ballad about a breakup, the crowd got the first view of the romantic side of Aldean. A side, sure, that all country crooners have but one that Aldean does with a Bryan Adams sort of swagger that really works.

Early in his set on "Amarillo Sky," Aldean paid tribute to the family farm. "He just takes the tractor another round. And pulls the plow across the ground. And sends up another prayer. He says Lord I never complain I never ask why. But please don't let my dream run dry." It's a modern day "Rain on the Scarecrow" that tells a similar story as the Mellencamp classic. That Mellencamp T-shirt on Aldean's back probably wasn't a random choice.

The thing I love about country music is that fans are generally fans of the genre. Of course they admire one guy, group or woman here or there too, but if you're a Chesney fan, you like Aldean, Keith and openers like Chris Young. Country music is open, honest and doesn't take itself too seriously. Therefore, when an artist like Aldean lays it all out and just entertains everyone from the 14 year-old girls to the 62 year-old men have a blast and feel a unique bond. You felt like last Friday at Toby Keith and tonight too.

Make no bones about it; Jason Aldean's show is a party. It's his "Kinda Party" and he owns the stage with his 5-piece band, jumbotron and flashing lights.

Before cranking out "Crazy Town," Aldean primed the pump by saying "You know it's gonna be a great show when you play in a city where they actually brew beer." And, yes, beer was flowing and Milwaukee drank in Aldean like an old friend.

Aldean's not quite ready for a 2-hour show like a Chesney or McGraw, but he's getting there. He did Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" as a first encore and closed his show with a jacked up version of "She's Country." The crowd sang, danced and loved every last minute of the Aldean party.

Opener Chris Young, only 26, is riding high on his hit "Tomorrow." He powered through an 11-song set that included the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Fishing in the Dark" and concluded with his moving hit "Voices," one of country music's finer singles of 2010. Don't be surprised to see Young headlining in the coming years.

Thompson Square, the husband and wife duo of Keifer and Shawna Thompson opened the night with a very brief set that included their three singles: "Let's Fight", "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not" and "I Got You."

Both Young and Thompson Square sadly suffered from amped up sound that really ruined their great voices. Sometimes a show can be too loud, and both of theirs were.

Chris Young set list

Save Water, Drink Beer

Gettin' You Home

That Makes Me


The Man I Want to Be


I Can Take it From There

Who's Gonna Take Me Home

Fishing in the Dark (cover)



Jason Aldean set list

Tattoos on this Town

Amarillo Sky

Big Green Tractor


The Truth

Crazy Town

See You When I See You

Don't You Wanna Stay

Texas Was You

My Kinda Party

Dirt Road Anthem

Laughed Until We Cried

Johnny Cash




Wanted Dead or Alive (cover)

She's Country


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