The band members were already warming up when Kristian Bush casually walked on stage wearing a white t-shirt, torn jeans, flip flops and a ball cap. He waved to us and proceeded to discuss songs with the band.
We were treated to instrumental renditions of “Little Miss,” Every Girl Like Me,” and “Tonight” – all brand new songs from Sugarland’s “Incredible Machine” album to be released October 19. They discussed measures and counts and at one point Kristian turned to us and said, “See, we really do work!”
With 15 minutes left in the sound check Jennifer Nettles arrived barefoot in a khaki colored jumper over a sports bra. She and Kristian adjusted their wireless mics and ran through the song “Settlin’.” Kristian played guitar and Jennifer walked through the steps on stage. They worked out a dance move and did a hamstring stretch to warm up. As they rehearsed “Incredible Machine” Jennifer walked over to Brandon Bush (Kristian’s brother) on the keyboard, picked up a pair of drumsticks and began playing to the beat.
The last song they rehearsed was “Sigh No More” – one of the encore performances they do with Little Big Town. Finally they bid us good bye and said “See you at the show!”
Having seen Sugarland perform the week before in Charlottesville, Virginia, I was truly looking forward to experiencing their concert again. Every time you go to this show you see something different and new. It is evident a lot of thought went into creating the set with its machine-type mechanisms and contrasting romantic, Victorian feel with lamps, lighting and visual effects.
Sugarland is energetic and fun. Jennifer Nettles is such a joy to watch, playfully toying with the audience, cracking jokes with that deep southern drawl of hers and casually moving from song to song. She has a way of embodying the music – it seems to come from a place deep within her. She can be graceful as a ballerina one minute and funky as a street dancer the next.
Kristian Bush is a wonderful side kick for Jennifer. His face is always full of expression as he plays guitar or mandolin and sings. When he’s not mixing it up with Jennifer he’s frequently moving about the stage and interacting with the audience.
If the songs “Stand Up,” “Incredible Machine,” and “Stuck Like Glue,” performed in concert are any indication of the new album coming out in October, I think Sugarland has a huge hit on the horizon.
Sugarland’s opening act, Little Big Town, played several songs from their current album “The Reason Why.” They opened with the harmonious “Why, Oh Why” followed by “Little White Church,” as well as “Runaway Train,” “The Reason Why,” “Shut Up Train,” and “Kiss Goodbye” which is lovely and will be their next single off the album. They also performed some crowd favorites “A Little More You,” “Bring It On Home,” and the ever popular “Boondocks.”
Little Big Town returned during Sugarland’s finale to perform London-based folk rock quartet Mumford & Son’s “Sigh No More.” The harmonies were beautiful but personally I preferred their Charlottesville finale performance of “Walkin’ In Memphis” with Sugarland.
The final song of the night was Sugarland’s rendition of The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” which received a tremendous response from the audience and appeared to have everyone up on their feet singing and dancing. I left Bristow with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step.