Beyond anything else, it’s important that we take care of each other. People first, then music. It’s doesn’t matter if you like Jason Aldean’s music or not. It doesn’t matter if you do or don’t like Jason Aldean’s politics, or the politics of his wife’s Instagram account. He’s still a human, and the last thing anyone should want is for a 46-year-old man to die on stage because they feel an obligation to perform through a health emergency.
On Friday night, July 14th, Jason Aldean was playing a show at the Xfinity Theatre, and had to stop the performance down only 20 minutes in due to heat exhaustion. Fan shot video shows Aldean performing his song “Crazy Town,” and then rushing off stage. No announcement was given for a while after, but the show was eventually cancelled. Aldean gave a more detailed update on Saturday (though not really an apology), saying that he was dehydrated from playing golf all day.
You can and should forgive Jason Aldean for the sudden cancellation due to a health issue. What he deserves to be criticized for is making the rookie mistake of not saving himself for a show that night, and instead going out and playing golf. 30,000 folks spent their hard-earned money and re-arranged their plans to be there. At the least, Jason Aldean could have made sure he was rested and fresh to take the stage, if not to put on the best performance that he could, then to make sure he could make it through.
All depictions out of Hartford on Friday were that it was a very hot day, and it remained hot into the evening. But Saving Country Music was out at Under The Big Sky Fest in Montana this weekend where the temperatures were roughly equal, and over 30 acts performed without incident. You had performers like Nikki Lane and LeAnn Rimes not only playing in the heat of the day, but with the sun blazing right in their face, pouring sweat on stage. They made it through just fine. There weren’t even any heat exhaustion incidents in the audience that I witnessed.
This once again brings up the concerns for the amount of cancellations and other issues that concert goers are facing post COVID. It’s not necessarily any specific cancellation. It’s more the culture of being much more okay to cancel a show as opposed adhering to the old mantra in the business, “The Show Must Go On.” It’s the attitude that a lot of these artists and their handlers are bringing to this business.
If Jason Aldean was physically incapable of performing, then there’s nothing to be done at that point. You have to cancel the show. But everything should have been done before the show to make sure a cancellation wasn’t even in the cards, and that’s not what happened. Especially when it comes to country artists since so many fans live in rural areas, gas money, hotel rooms, even sometimes airfare can’t be reimbursed, making cancellations are very costly.
“But Trig, what about Sierra Ferrell cancelling a string of shows recently?” Yes, that’s unfortunate too. And whoever booked her to play six shows in seven days in two separate countries and four different states needs to learn from that mistake, just like Jason Aldean and his handlers need to learn here, especially if Sierra signed off on the shows herself.
Meanwhile, Lainey Wilson was opening for Luke Combs at Bank of America Stadium this weekend in North Carolina when lightning damaged some equipment. As opposed to canceling her set, Lainey came out and performed acoustically, and created a memorable moment out of what could have been a cancellation. These are the kinds of moments that can help make an artist’s career—when they soldier through adversity, and deliver a memorable performance.
Beyond the cancellation, Jason Aldean’s name trending has caused the politicals to finally pay attention to the lyrics of his new song “Try That in a Small Town.” For sure, the song is fair to scrutinize, and probably deserves some scrutiny. But it’s been out for two months now. To take the opportunity of Jason Aldean experiencing a health emergency on stage to kick him while he’s down is similar to the character indictments people throw at individuals when the news breaks that they died.
If you actually care about these issues or country music in general, then you would have broached them before, not when it’s expedient and exploitative. So many folks in the journalism/political class only pay attention to country music when it fits their agenda. I have my own opinions about “Try That in a Small Town,” and I’ll share them at a more appropriate time. Now is not that time.
For now it’s people first, then music. Jason Aldean seems to have completely recovered after some IV’s, and the Hartford show will be rescheduled. Hopefully he learned his lesson, and hopefully other artists will as well that these performances are to be taken seriously.
Fans are not expendable, and they shouldn’t be treated as such.