In the country music world, Kenny Chesney is a household name. From a young cowboy in the 90s in Tennessee to sipping on his signature rum in Blue Chair Bay, Chesney has released anthems for every person to enjoy. So much so, he’s sold out football stadiums all across the U.S for countless summers. For some, me included, seeing Chesney live marks the start of summer. For the past few years, my mom and I have made it a tradition to see him in concert every summer. Once driving five hours to see him in Northern New Jersey when we missed him in Philadelphia. We aren’t the only two do this, surely. We’ve met people from Maine in DC, from one coast to another, showing how big of an impact Chesney has made on families, couples, kids, and everyone in-between. With the Songs For The Saints Tour, this said impact was proven to be mutual. Chesney decided to perform a more intimate show by scaling down to smaller venues, to form a stronger connection between him and his fans. I went to see Chesney this year at The Anthem, a venue on DC’s waterfront.
For an artist who sells out football stadiums, Chesney did not disappoint. As soon as you walk into the room, you’re no longer in DC or whatever city he’s performing in that night. You’re immediately transported to a beach on the coast of somewhere beautiful (pun intended) with a cold drink that has a tiny pink umbrella poking out with your toes in the sand. There’s a lot to be said about Kenny Chesney, but going to a country music concert is a whole other world. The atmosphere is almost indescribable. You see drunk people stumbling before the opening act comes on, you see mothers and fathers reliving their youths for two hours that night, and teenagers making the most of theirs. With Kenny Chesney, you truly forget about reality like he sings in his song. We got there two hours before the first opening act, Caroline Jones, came on stage. I settled with a spot up front by the biggest speakers in the venue while I waited with great anticipation. That night I needed a break from the reality I was living in, and already promised myself to leave the world where they first scanned my ticket. I thought about how my mom and I would listen to “Summertime” by Chesney as we drove over the causeway to our own island in New Jersey every single summer. My mom and I engaged in conversation with a woman from Maine telling us repeatedly how she would go anywhere for Chesney. While my mom went to get a drink, I stood and listened, unfazed by the girls screaming to their boyfriends next to me.
“You’re used to concerts, aren’t you?” She asked me, already knowing what the answer was. I told her that concerts were like a second home to me. Confirming what anyone has ever said about escaping to music. She laughed when I told her that I wanted to be a music journalist and write for Rolling Stone, saying I was the right person for the job. As soon as the opening acts came on, I didn’t talk to the woman for the rest of the night. I didn’t catch her name, but as soon as we started talking we already had something in common. That something is why we both decided to be in the same place on a Friday night. The same reason thousands of others were in that room that night. Music is truly the one connection between us all. So when I heard the opening chords of “Beer in Mexico,” I knew I was home.
As Chesney would say, that’s the good stuff. If you’re somewhere and Kenny Chesney is in town, buy the tickets to the show. We all need to come back home every once in awhile.