Jason Aldean: When the Lights Go Off

The Backstage Conversation After the Cancellation

By the time I got to the Jason Aldean show outside of Chicago on Friday night (Sept. 27), it was too late. The show had been cancelled due to thunderstorms and cloud-to-ground lightning that had descended on the south suburbs.

The parking lot was as full of fans as it was of standing water. And while they all waited patiently in their cars for the gates to open — prepped for the weather with ponchos and rain boots, because Aldean’s fans are not just fair-weather fans — inside the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, the decision was being made that the show mustn’t go on.

I made it backstage safe and sound just before the heaviest rain started to fall, so I could talk to Aldean about the decision that no country star ever wants to make.

“This is just so unfortunate. We’re all watching the weather and we’re on the phone with the National Weather Service. But it’s one of those things where if we see there’s a window when we can get the show in, we’re here and we’re set up and we’re ready to go and knock it out,” Aldean told me. “But tonight, the storms are coming through and they’re not gonna end until sometime after midnight.

“Even if there was a small window of time that looked safe to play, and we let everybody in and started the show, if there was even one lightning strike, we’d have to send all the fans back out to their cars to make sure they are safe. And that really becomes a headache for them. We’ve done it like that before, but then the people who stick around all night waiting, and you eventually have to cancel, I mean, that’s a bad deal for them. It’s just something we never want to have to do.”

Aldean explained that a full cancellation like Friday night’s is a last resort.

“We’re here and we’re ready, and we can always plow through if it’s just rain. It would get sloppy, but we could do it,” he said.

The lightning, though. That’s what changes everything.

“If it’s striking within so many miles of the venue, we have to shut it down. There’s no choice. And that’s where we are tonight. You can see on the weather we’re watching that it’s literally right on top of this building.”

And he knows just how disappointing it is, because he’s been on the other side of those venue gates waiting for a show to go on. “I get it, as a fan. You have something you’re really looking forward to, and then the day comes and something like this happens. It’s so frustrating. People usually kind of want to point the finger at somebody, but in this case, there’s no one to blame. It just happens,” he said. “You’re at the mercy of the weather.”

According to the venue, full refunds will be available at the point of ticket purchase.

Aldean’s Ride All Night tour with Kane Brown and Carly Pearce continues Saturday and Sunday nights at the DTE Energy Music Center in Clarkston, Mich.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.
@alisonbonaguro