55,000 country music fans found out what happens “when the sun goes down” behind MetLife Stadium underneath a pink sky “out last night” on a 75 degrees perfect summer Saturday night.

Vendors sold hot dogs and cheesesteaks. Kids ate vanilla custard with rainbow sprinkles out of waffle cones from Rita’s Water Ice for a treat while adults enjoyed a wide selection of alcoholic beverages (Chesney’s tour, No Shoes Nation, was sponsored by Corona).

The crowd was, as one woman’s t-shirt said, which was quoting Luke Bryan: “Drunk on you and high on summertime.”

Preppy bankers from Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase in chinos and collared shirts and good shoes and expensive cologne and their dates with diamond earrings, pedicured feet, and designer handbags mixed seamlessly with iron workers, fire fighters, and fishermen with farmers’ tans in camouflaged cargo shorts and cowboy hats and women in cowboy boots and American flag tube tops.

Even twelve miles from Manhattan, everybody loves country music. And everybody loves Kenny Chesney.

Even the two shirtless surfers sitting in front of me with Daytona 500 baseball caps on their heads and Jersey Strong tattoos on their backs.

“No shoes, no shirt, no problems.”

The three people sitting next to them wore shirts that read, “Proud to be an American,” “I’ll keep my freedom, guns, money, and religion and you can keep the ‘change,’” and “Give me Kenny or give me death.”

Kacey Musgraves opened the show and performed her hit “Merry Go ‘Round.”

The Eli Young Band was up next and did “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” “Crazy Girl,” and “Drunk Last Night.”

Third was Eric Church who did his hits “Like Jesus Does,” “Love Your Love The Most,” “Guys Like Me,” and “Springsteen.”

Chesney opened with “Feel Like A Rock Star” and went on to do “Reality,” “Another Beer In Mexico,” “Pirate Flag,” “Summertime“ (“Summertime is finally here. . .just like a long lost friend/You ain’t seen in a while/And can’t help but smile. . .Perfect song on the radio/Sing along ‘cause it’s one we know/It’s a smile, it’s a kiss/It’s a sip of wine, it’s summertime”) “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” (“Blues? What blues? I forgot ‘em”), and “Somewhere With You.”

          Chesney told the crowd that he thinks that music is the most powerful force in our lives and then continued with “I Go Back,” “You and Tequila,” “Living in Fast Forward,” “How Forever Feels,” “Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven,” “Big Star,” “Come Over,” “Don’t Happen Twice,” “Never Wanted Nothing More,” and “Anything But Mine.”

          Chesney then told the crowd that we have now come to his favorite portion of the show and then he performed his new hit, “When I See This Bar” with Eric Church.

          He then did “When The Sun Goes Down” (“we’ll be feelin’ all right”),  “Out Last Night,” (“Well, you know I’m a music man/I grew up in East Tennessee/Last night I was everything/When I got a few drinks in me”) and “Boys of Fall.” He closed the concert with “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.”

          After the concert, “Out Last Night” played in the parking lot as I made my way to the bus:

We went out last night

Like we swore we wouldn’t do

Drank too much beer last night

A lot more than we wanted to. . .

Well the fact that I’m still breathing

Means that I must have survived

And that I lived to go out with my friends again tonight. . .

On the bus back to Port Authority, I was sandwiched between a yuppie couple headed to Armonk for a hedge fund barbeque tomorrow and a slob in a Danica Patrick t-shirt who was rolling a joint and wanted to know where he could pick up a bail bond.

Or was it the other way around? I’m not sure.  As the Eli Young band sang, “I got a little drunk last night” or as Kenny Chesney said, “Yeah, life was good everywhere. We went out last night.”

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...