Singer at Las Vegas massacre performs at BOK center
Jason Aldean had something to get off his chest during his Thursday night concert at the BOK Center. He isn't going to live in fear, and you shouldn't either. “What I want to say is these people are going to continue to try and hold us down and continue to try to do things to us that make us live in fear and be scared and not go out and do what it is we want to do, whether it's go to a concert or go to a ballgame or go to the mall or go to a movie. And to those people that keep trying to do that, I say … we don't live in fear.”
The Tulsa show was the country music artist's first concert since more than 50 people were killed and more than 500 others injured when a gunman fired into the crowd while Aldean was performing at an Oct. 1 music festival in Las Ve-
... it has been really cool to see all the love and support that has been going on ... and I just feel like if we can do that on a daily basis, man, the world would be a lot better place. — Jason Aldean, on the days since the Las Vegas shooting
Aldean announced Oct. 3 that he was postponing his next three tour stops out of respect for the victims and their families. He said he would resume his tour in Tulsa.
Fans at the BOK Center braced for an emotional return. Aldean tore into his set and played three songs before addressing the crowd for about five minutes.
“As you guys know, man, it has been a tough week and a half for all of us up here on stage, and I want to say thank you guys for being here tonight,” Aldean said. “You guys are going to help us get through this as much as we are going to help you guys.”
Aldean said he was glad to resume the tour and, referring to the Las Vegas tragedy, he said, “It's one of those things I hope you guys don't ever experience anything like that. It has really been a tough thing to deal with for all of us up here. I think the one thing that is probably going to help us more than anything is playing for you guys tonight, so thank you so much for coming out.”
Aldean said he and his band and crew think every day about the 58 people who died in the massacre. He said he didn't want to count the shooter as No. 59. He said thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the families and the people at the festival.
“Sometimes this country can be really divided — it seems like really divided a lot of times, and that's really an unfortunate thing to see,” he said. “But it has been really cool to see all the love and support that has been going on over the last 10 days or so because of what happened in Las Vegas, and I just feel like if we can do that on a daily basis, man, the world would be a lot better place.”
Aldean said he struggled for the last couple of days about how to handle the Tulsa show. But he said one thing he has done over his career is try to give fans a chance to forget about their problems for a few hours and have fun.
“I want this to not be something that is going to be a downer for the rest of the night,” he said before resuming the concert, adding that he wanted to play for “you guys tonight” the show that the people in Las Vegas didn't get to see.
Among people at Aldean's welcomeback show was Minsheha Fenno, who was in tears after the events of Oct. 1.
She woke up in the middle of the night, and her phone was “blowing up” with messages and notifications about the shooting in Las Vegas.
Fenno, who lives in Tulsa, said several of her friends were at the festival, including a close friend who had not marked herself as “safe” on social media.
Overcome with worry and emotion, that's when Fenno started crying. Good news came later.
“She is alive, but she told me she saw people drop 5 feet away from her,” Fenno said before the concert. “For some reason, she came out alive. She has been very depressed and kind of in the dumps since, so I was going to make this shirt for her, and when this is done I'm going to send it off to her.”
Fenno was wearing a shirt (it took her six hours to make) with photos of the Las Vegas shooting victims on the back and a “sing for strength” message on the front.
“Love is going to win ultimately. Hate won't win,” said Fenno, who won a contest sponsored by radio station KVOO and was rewarded with a chance to meet Aldean after the show.
The goal of the contest was to create Tshirts with uplifting messages of support for Jason Aldean. Courtney Jefferson of the Meeks Group designed a shirt with shooting victims' names on the back. She and Natasha Smith and Katera David wore those shirts to the BOK Center.
Autumn Eddings of Bixby wore a shirt that said “1,221 miles from here to you, we're praying for y'all like Oklahomans do. Stand strong and you'll get through because this fly over state is always with you.”
The song “Fly Over States” was a No. 1 single for Aldean in 2012.
Courtney Hammock, who lives in Tulsa, and Tiffany Adame, who lives in Coffeyville, Kansas, were the first people to line up outside the downtown Tulsa arena for Aldean's return.
Hammock showed up around 10:30 a.m. and was joined by Adame after noon.
“We are here to show (Aldean) that we are supporting him just like his music gets us through all kinds of stuff,” Adame said. “We are here for him, even though we are only two people.”
Hammock, who had seen Aldean twice before, and Adame purchased tickets months before Las Vegas. Fans were still buying tickets on the day of the show.
During an interview hours before the concert began, Adame and Hammock said they expected to feel safe at the BOK Center, which has metal detectors at entrances. Hammock expected security to be at its highest for the concert.
Hundreds of people began lining up at the BOK's primary entrance before the doors opened around 6:30 p.m. The scene was mostly business as usual, with people chatting and making use of cellphones while waiting to get inside, except that news crews (including one from Wichita) were roaming the premises.
When news broke about the Las Vegas shooting, Hammock said she immediately started praying, “because that's a really sad situation and nobody should ever have to go through that, and I don't really think anybody has words for it, to be honest. The whole thing is sad.”
Asked if she felt for Aldean, she said, “I feel for us as a country. I feel for him because he was on stage; he was performing; he was doing his job. But our country is out of hand, and I feel sad for us as a whole, not for one individual person.”
Aldean predicted in an Oct. 3 statement that his first time back on stage would be a tough and emotional thing. “But we will all get through it together and honor the people we lost by doing the only thing we know how to do — play our songs for them.”
Also in the Oct. 3 statement, he thanked friends and fans for an outpouring of love. “You guys have no idea how much you have helped get us through this tough time.”
Six days after the shooting, Aldean appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and addressed the audience before playing Tom Petty's “Won't Back Down.”
“This week we witnessed one of the worst tragedies in American history,” Aldean said. “Like everyone, I'm struggling to understand what happened that night and how to pick up the pieces and start to heal. So many people are hurting. There are children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends. They are all part of our family. So I want to say to them: `We hurt for you, and we hurt with you.'”
Aldean returned to Las Vegas on Sunday to visit with some victims of the shooting. He is scheduled to perform Friday in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Saturday in Evansville, Indiana.
Country star Jason Aldean makes a return to the stage at Tulsa's BOK Center on Thursday night after canceling tour dates following the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history in Las Vegas.