Country music comes alive at Mid-State Fair with Lady Antebellum

Shelby Parker

Features Editor

It might come as a bit of a shock, but Californians love their country music. The crowd came alive at the Mid-State Fair concert as Grammy-nominated country trio Lady Antebellum took the stage on Tuesday, July 22 in the beautiful wine country, Paso Robles, Calif.

The night kicked off early as Jana Kramer opened for the group. However, crowd participation was minimal. Kramer continued to encourage the audience to “get up and clap,” and a few listened. It took a lot of prodding from the singer.

“I’m not mad, I’m disappointed…And we all know that’s worse,” said Kramer with a bit of sass during one of her songs. “For the love of the next 40 minutes, sing along.”

Jana Kramer getting the crowd involved at the Mid State Fair in Paso Robles, Calif.
Jana Kramer gets the crowd involved at the Mid State Fair in Paso Robles, Calif.  Photo Credit: T. Parker

Although the crowd wasn’t as eager to participate as Kramer would have hoped, that didn’t stop her from doing her thing. She was energetically bouncing around and hitting every note of her songs with her powerful voice — all in several-inch heels (which should be a talent in and of itself). She held nothing back and poured emotion into every lyric.

Kramer sang many songs from her first album such as “Whiskey,” “One of the Boys” and “I Hope It Rains.”  She added that she didn’t want it to rain all of us, but dedicated it to the ladies and all of “our crappy ex-boyfriends.”

The singer also previewed a few songs from her new album coming out in the “fall-ish time” as she doesn’t have a release date quite yet. One song called “I Got The Boy” is about her high school sweetheart and how he has moved on with his life; a true country song through-and-through. The next song was the complete opposite as she sang about how glad she is that she dodged “one heck of a bullet.” This song has a Miranda Lambert/rocker flare to it. If those are any indication of what the rest of the album will sound like, fans are certainly in for a treat.

Then, of course, she sang the hits that fans of “One Tree Hill” would recognize such as “That’s What I Love About Your Love” and her first single at country radio “Why Ya Wanna.”

Kramer said that she had lived in Los Angeles for about 10 years and people would always ask, “How can you be a country girl and live in Cali?” She told the audience that places like this remind her that it’s possible.

During the intermission, the air turned chilly, but Lady Antebellum heated things up rather quickly with their incredible chemistry, not only with one another, but with the audience.

The band played an instrumental medley of the group’s biggest hits, and out walked Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood.

Starting off with “Compass,” the three then went into “Perfect Day,” and the fans were immediately in on the action, on their feet from the start, waving their hands back and forth and finishing the lyrics when prompted. From there, they went into other hits such as “Love Don’t Live Here,” “Just A Kiss” and “American Honey.”

Kelley was the spokesperson of the night; telling stories and encouraging fans to have a good time, while also running into the audience. The lead vocalist seemed to be enjoying life and kept the crowd on their feet, happy and energized.

Not only did the group sing the hits that made them famous, they also did a couple covers of the Dixie Chicks’ “Cowboy Take Me Away” and Fleetwood Mac’s classic “Rhiannon.” Their harmonies are an incredible match together, but in this case, they truly showcased Hillary Scott’s unique voice and range. Kelley said that’s exactly why he wanted her in the group when she finished.

But, the group didn’t take the crowd for granted, as they recalled their start in 2006. They thanked everyone for being on the journey; giving their approval and having a connection with them. The trio then played a short acoustic set (similar to their earlier days) with a few songs, like “Goodbye Town,” “Wanted You More” and “Hello World.”

“Charles always says that after this moment, we’ll rock it off for the rest of the night,” Scott told fans, and they sure did.

The band went into their uptempo songs with “Bartender,” “Downtown,” “Looking For A Good Time” and “We Owned The Night.” They also played one of the songs from their upcoming album titled “Long Stretch of Love,” only having played it one other time. They waited to play it in California, and it seems they got the reaction they had hoped for.

Lady Antebellum sing their hits, like "American Honey" and "Need You Now" on July 22 at the Mid-State Fair.
Lady Antebellum sing their hits, like “American Honey” and “Need You Now” on July 22 at the Mid-State Fair. Photo credit: T.Parker

Kelley told the audience that “you’ve gotta take advantage of nights like this,” commenting about the stars and implying the great weather.

Scott added that you’ve just “gotta let your hair do what it does,” referring to her own curly waves. Kelley told her it was very Janis Joplin, so Scott said she would own it. Haywood, whose nickname is “The Quiet Storm,” didn’t say much during the show. Scott and Kelley joked that they didn’t stop talking long enough to let him talk.

The group’s encore was “Need You Now” and started with four of the most recognizable notes on the piano. The audience later joined in as they sang in unison, reminiscent of a young children’s choir in the process. The final songs were covers of Avicii’s “Wake Me Up” and Pitch Perfect’s “Cups.”

“This is my favorite show we’ve ever done here,” said Kelley, as it was their fourth time playing the venue.

Lady Antebellum makes you feel like you’re part of their intimate bubble, always including the crowd in their special moments that take place in each and every song. Their connection with the crowd was undeniable. They brought the party from start to finish, and it was easy to see that they enjoyed every minute. They have two of the most important things any artists needs to survive, love for music and love for the fans.

The group will release their fifth album on Sept. 30. The complete track listing was released Tuesday morning.