Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan, contrasting styles at Merriweather Post
By Emily Yahr,
If Luke Bryan is the guy at the party running around persuading everyone to take another shot, then Jason Aldean is the quiet, brooding cowboy in the corner ready to jump onstage and wow everyone with an unexpected rap. Both country singers delivered deafeningly entertaining shows to thousands at a sold-out concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Sunday. But the question remained: What would have happened if they combined their strengths?
We may never know. Bryan kicked off the night, basking in the glow of his two ultra-cheesy recent hit singles, the hip-shaking “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” and the earnest “Drunk on You,” in which he croons “Girl, you make my speakers go ‘boom boom.’ ”
Bryan, who turns 36 on Tuesday, has embraced this goofy persona — he shed his guitar almost instantly during the first song, preferring a microphone so he could groove around the stage. There were hip swivels, pelvic thrusts, air kicks, muscle flexes. Soaked with sweat dripping off him, Bryan shook it no matter what the theme of the song — loving, cheating, happy to be alive and drinking — such as “Rain Is a Good Thing,” “Someone Else Calling You Baby” and “All My Friends Say.”
Sitting down at a piano, Bryan teased the first few lines of Justin Bieber’s song “Boyfriend” — but proved that even he had his limits. “No Bieber tonight,” he told the crowd.
But what Bryan lacked in deep concert “moments” with his dance party, Aldean, 35, easily made up for with intensity onstage. He started off with electric guitar-heavy, explosive “Johnny Cash,” only to immediately segue into four slowed-down songs. From “Big Green Tractor” to super-depressing break-up song “The Truth,” Aldean still managed to keep the energy level buzzing. Cowboy hat slung low over his eyes, he mainly stayed anchored to the mike.
For a show that seemed methodical, he never lost the audience, many of whom had been drenched in a rainstorm before the show. Aldean ran through his most high-energy tunes, including the rocking “Crazy Town” and “My Kinda Party,” and small-town-loving “Flyover States” and “Tattoos on This Town.” He cracked more than a few smiles when the audience roared along with his smash country rap “Dirt Road Anthem.”
As for the potential Bryan-Aldean super group, disappointingly, the singers didn’t make a joint appearance. The only duet came when former “American Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson appeared via giant video screen to accompany Aldean on their 2010 single, “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”