On August 6th, I joined a sold out crowd to sing along and dance with modern country band Lady Antebellum at the recently-opened John C. Dunham Pavilion at River Edge Park along the Fox River in Aurora, Illinois. The enthusiastic fans enjoyed all of Lady A’s hits and a few new songs while partaking in good beer like local favorite Two Brothers Domaine DuPage and excellent offerings from the on-site Two Brothers Cafe and area food trucks. I had loaded nachos that were messy but fantastic, along with my Two Brothers Microbrew. The show is general admission with the gates opening up two hours before act is due on-stage. There is a standing room only section up front, and then areas on both the surrounding concrete and grassy hill for chairs and blankets. Guests waited in line for a chance to get a great seat. I arrived just at 6:00 when the gates were due to arrive and went in a less crowded gate (Gate 2) and found a good place to put my chair at the end of a row with a pretty good sight line. I must admit, parking was a little interesting. There is no parking at the venue itself, but there is parking a various business for a reasonable price up and down Broadway, and there is a lot of free public parking in downtown Aurora, which is about four blocks south. After six o’clock, the transit center opens up and allows cars to park across from the venue. In addition, one could take the BNSF train from points East and walk across the street.
Lady Antebellum is a trio of musicians: Hillary Scott (lead vocals and background vocals), Charles Kelley (lead and background vocals, guitar), and Dave Haywood (background vocals, guitar, piano, mandolin). In addition, they have other band members, including drummer Chris Tyrrell who is married to Hillary Scott. Kelley and Haywood joined up to write songs in 2006, then added Hillary to their trio and named their group Lady Antebellum. They landed their first Nashville recording contract in 2007. Since then, they have released four albums and have a new album, 747, coming out at the end of September. The group is affectionate known as Lady A by their fans. Lady A is among country music’s new elite: they have won several Grammy’s and Country Music Association awards, among other music industry awards. They continue to top the charts, with their latest single Bartender making the top five on the Billboard US Hot Country Songs chart.
Lady A took the stage right at eight o’clock with their opening song Our Kind of Love. Lady A has a unique sound. Charlie and Hillary both take turns as the lead singer, while the other provides harmonies. Dave also harmonizes with most songs, providing a full musical experience. On the screen behind the stage they had a thoughtful mix of old pictures and memories. The beat and lyrics kept the audience up and dancing at their seats and many people left their seats to go up to the standing area in front.
For the next hour and a half, Lady A played all their major hits, including Just a Kiss Goodnight, Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, American Honey, and Run to You. They played their current hit, Bartender while the video for song played behind them on the screen, along with another new song from their upcoming album. They performed a gorgeous cover of the Dixie Chicks classic Cowboy Take Me Away. The close harmonies gave me chills. I also enjoyed We Own the Night. At the encore, they played Need You Now and a cover of You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone, which was most recently made famous by Anna Kendrick in the movie Pitch Perfect. They left me wanting more, and that’s a good thing.
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience. The venue is worth checking out for future concerts. There are other restaurants close by, and the casino is there, too. Lady Antebellum has earned their stripes in the country scene. I hope I get a chance to see them again.
River Edge Park (360 N. Broadway, Aurora IL) has a few shows on their schedule for 2014, including rock favorite Boston and country singer Jennifer Nettles (of Sugarland) with Indigo Girls opening. Visit their site for more details.