I’ve been a country music fan my entire life. Growing up, my favorite artists were Garth Brooks, George Strait, and Brooks & Dunn. I wore holes in my Pure Country soundtrack cassette tape from listening to it so frequently. To this day, 90s country always brings about a sense of nostalgia. Adam and I even danced to a 90s country song – Keeper of the Stars by Tracy Byrd – for our first dance as husband and wife.
When I was in college, I interned for a local country music radio station where I had the opportunity to meet a lot of artists who were up-and-coming at the time. I remember seeing artists like Eric Church, The Band Perry, and David Nail before they became big names on country music radio.
I’ve also attended a lot of country concerts. Garth Brooks at the Arena will forever be my favorite concert but there’s something special about seeing artists when they perform in smaller venues. The St. Augustine Amphitheatre is by far my favorite venue on the First Coast. I’ve seen numerous concerts there including Lady Antebellum and Zac Brown Band who both put on amazing shows. Last Saturday night, Adam and I saw Chris Young with Dustin Lynch and Cassadee Pope perform at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre and added another country concert to our already long list.
The St. Augustine Ampitheatre was built in 1965 on 16 acres of Anastasia State Park. In 2002, St. Johns County refurbished the Amphitheatre and after 5 years of construction the venue opened with capacity to hold up to 4,100 attendees. The facility also features a conference room, four concession stands, a merchandise area, a large plaza, and an elaborate arboretum of walking trails.
Pro tip if you plan to attend an event at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre – park in Anastasia State Park and ride the shuttle to the Amphitheatre. Both parking and the shuttle are FREE plus you miss out on a ton of traffic. You’re welcome.
We arrived to the Amphitheatre on Saturday night just as Cassadee Pope took the stage. We made it through security and found our way to our seats in section 201. The venue is outdoors but if you sit in the pit/floor, 100, or 200 sections, you’re covered by a canvas awning. Above that and you’re at the mercy of the elements.
I was excited to see that most of the people sitting around us were older. Having just finished a LONG week at work, I was looking forward to sitting back and enjoying a nice night of country music.
As we got settled in our seats, the stage crew was setting up for Dustin Lynch who came on stage shortly thereafter and performed a medley of his hits and a couple crowd favorites like Friends in Low Places. He also made mention that his family who lives in Fernandina were attending the concert and we quickly realized they were sitting right in front of us. There was something really special about seeing his grandparents light up as he sang a song inspired by their love for one another.
Dustin wrapped up his set and the crew came back out to set up for Chris Young. Dustin’s family members also left at this time so there was a large block of empty seats in front of us and I was really excited that I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone standing in front of us during the rest of the concert. And then they walked in.
Please understand that this next bit of complaining has nothing to do with the venue. As I mentioned, the St. Augustine Amphitheatre is my favorite venue and the staff works hard to make everything run as smoothly as possible. But there’s always one in every crowd… or in our case three.
Three young girls – early 20s, I doubt they were all 21 – came waltzing in and took three of the seats in front of us. I’m not even sure they had tickets for the seats they occupied but that’s neither here nor there. Immediately I knew they were going to be trouble. But not wanting to be the crabby old pregnant lady, I kept my opinions to myself.
The passed around large frozen alcoholic beverages and Snapchatted selfies. When the lights dimmed signaling Chris Young’s entrance on the stage, one girl leaned forward in her chair letting out the loudest screech I have possibly ever heard right into the ear of the older lady sitting in front of them. The older lady turned around with a disgusted look holding her ear and the girls started giggling. As soon as the woman turned around, they gave her the middle finger and then proceeded to Snapchat themselves flicking the woman off. So, now I realized not only were they obnoxious (and probably drunk) but also rude… and the night only went downhill from there.
The girls were a problem throughout the entire show. I know it’s a concert and I know people are going to dance and sing and woo. I get it, I was one of those woo girls in my younger years too. But I also had respect for others. These girls successfully annoyed the entire section and we became friends with our neighbors over a mutual hatred of their actions. They booty danced, screamed at the top of their lungs, almost spilled their drinks on the people in front of them, and Snapchatted themselves making obscene gestures and duckfaces the entire show (they weren’t event photographing the performance!). Multiple people moved to get away from them, the older lady asked them to move down into other vacated seats (which they did), and Adam approached an usher who unfortunately said nothing could be done. It wasn’t until two of the girls left and the woman sitting next to us mentioned to the third girl how ridiculous and annoying they were being that they calmed down at all. But this was at the end of the show.
Adam and I left as the encore began and before the other two girls made it back to their seats, though we passed them in leaving. The whole night I kept thinking to myself how angry I would be if any of those girls were my daughter. They were embarrassingly disrespectful and crossed way over the line of having fun into being total jerks.
But despite the girls, we really enjoyed the show. Chris Young put on a great performance and covered all of my favorite songs. He cracked jokes and brought Cassadee Pope and Dustin Lynch on stage for collaborations. And the small size of the venue made everyone feel like they were part of the show not just another face in the crowd.
Be sure to check out the St. Augustine Amphitheatre events calendar for a list of upcoming shows. (Foreigner with Kansas, anyone?) I definitely recommend making a trip to St. Augustine for show if you haven’t. And I hope they don’t end up sitting in front of you.