Jones Beach concerts are a staple for Long Islanders and New York City patrons alike each summer, setting up tents and BBQing while chugging beers and dancing along to music blaring out of the speakers of their tailgates. Although Saturday morning brought heavy rain, the clouds cleared away just in time for the afternoon tailgaters to head to the parking lots and set up their spots. By the time the Summer Plays On Tour kicked off the sun was shining brightly over the sparkling waterfront venue.
Russell Dickerson took the stage for his 30-minute opening set, which included the biggest hits from his debut album, Yours including “Billions”, “Float” and “Every Little Thing”. The energy he brings to every single performance is unmatched, he spins and jumps around the stage as if the music can not be contained inside his body. Making this night extra special, Dickerson had 80 friends and family who all live in the NY area attending that night, showing their pride in the rising star. “It’s my absolute pleasure to be kicking this thing off here tonight,” he says of the Summer Plays On Tour. He closed his set thanking the country music fans for making “Yours,” his very first number one at country radio before singing the love song, allowing the audience to take the lead at the end.
Next up, Darius Rucker who is no stranger to the Jones Beach stage played all of his biggest songs as the sun set over the venue. Kicking things off with “Homegrown Honey”, “Radio” and “Alright” Rucker knows how to create a set that features some of the best songs from his earlier records as well as highlighting his most recent hits like “If I Told You”. He told the audience “Everyone in my camp says I have to sing this song on tour, I think it might be the next single so let me know what y’all think of this one” before singing “Hands On Me” off his latest album, When Was the Last Time.
Fans know that when they are attending a Darius Rucker concert they are bound to be hit with some of the classic Hootie and The Blowfish singles that catapulted him to stardom in the 90’s. On this particular night, Rucker sang “Let Her Cry” and “I Only Wanna Be With You” and each time he sings those oldies, the crowd goes absolutely wild. “This guy is my very best friend in the business,” Rucker said as he introduced front man for Lady Antebellum to the stage to sing their cover of Drivin’ N’ Cryin’s “Straight to Hell” which also features Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean. The hilarious western video played in the background while the two buddies sang the heck out of the song. Closing his set with “Wagon Wheel” the crowd erupted into a giant sing-a-long swaying to the smash hit.
Headlining the night, Lady Antebellum took the stage and the trio has never sounded better. Their harmonies shined on their classic songs such as “Dancing Away With My Heart”, “Our Kind Of Love” and “I Run To You” while they kept the energy up by performing “You Look Good” and “Downtown”. Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood come together each tour as the quintessential hitmakers, bringing their live show to the next level each year. The fans know and love their music and always show up to sing along.
The biggest highlight of the night was when Hilary Scott acknowledged a cardboard cut-out of our buddy, Nick McElhatton, who is serving our country right now. Scott asked to get a camera on the group stating “He is obviously protecting our freedom, keeping us safe in the greatest country in the world and I want to dedicate this next song to this man, this is “American Honey”. Watch the emotional moment above.
Darius Rucker and Russell Dickerson joined Lady Antebellum for an encore that was one for the books, performing Hootie and the Blowfish “Hold My Hand” then Dickerson highlighted his talent while singing Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” as a duet with Scott. After their song Kelley and Rucker even commented “`Don’t be comin’ up here tryin’ show off” Kelley laughed as Rucker said, “Who do you think you are young man” truly impressing not only the crowd but his tourmates as well. They closed with Lady Antebellum’s “Love Don’t Live Here” and had 15,000 people on their feet, thankful for a night of incredible country music. For the rest of the Summer Plays On Tour dates click here.
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