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Sugarland brings it home to Philips

Who says you can’t go home? Atlanta’s own country music duo Sugarland did just that Saturday night before a nearly sold out crowd at Philips Arena.

For a little under an hour and a half, Jennifer Nettles of Atlanta and Kristian Bush of Decatur delivered a crowd-pleasing show that mingled tunes from 2010’s “Incredible Machine” (“All We Are,” “Stuck Like Glue,” “Settlin In”) with older material such as “Baby Girl” and “Something More,” which garnered the band its first Grammy nomination for best new artist in 2006.

Nettles and Bush are a joy to watch on stage, particularly when they’re doing animated back-and-forth gestures and playful dancing. Even with Nettle’s commanding presence and voice, Bush certainly gets to have his say with impressive performances on guitar during numbers that included “Incredible Machine.” Perhaps Nettles described it best, saying “Kristian will break it down like a guitar hero at the prom in 1989.”

There’s also something pretty special and heartwarming about watching a hometown band go from playing the personable Eddie’s Attic to the expansive Philips. Even with its bare, minimalist stage that looked as if it belonged more at Eddie’s than Philips, there was no doubt that this band was now in the big time.

“This is so much fun. We’re excited to be in our hometown,” said Nettles. “I’ve seen plenty of good shows here, so to be playing here is truly a dream come true,” Nettles then became all giddy reading aloud the signs and posters from fans standing near the stage. “Don’t mind us, it’s a freaking show for us, too.”

Perhaps that helps explain the random men running across the stage during “Every Girl Like Me” or the gents who came on stage dressed as Cee Lo Green, Britney Spears, Dolly Parton and Beyonce during the “Everyday America” remix that included samples of “Forget You,” Hit Me Baby, One More Time,” “9 to 5,” and “Bootylicious.” Or maybe it even explains the nearly naked Darth Vadar on stage briefly during “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.” Appropriately, it was during that song that Nettles introduced members of the duo’s all-Georgia band, hailing from towns such as Swainsboro, Cochran and Cairo, in addition to metro Atlanta.

Saturday night’s show also had its share of tender moments. During the performance of “Little Miss,” hundreds of fans held signs reading “It’ll be alright again, I’m okay,” while others held signs with the words “Sometimes you gotta lose ’til you win.” Nettles said it was a tribute to the fans who died or were injured when stands collapsed before a Sugarland performance at the Indiana State Fair two months ago.

A few songs later, Nettles asked the audience if they liked surprises. She and Bush then proceeded to sign an acoustic guitar, teasing fans who screamed and waved their arms for the chance to take possession of it. The teasing continued as Bush walked through the crowd on the floor, made his way up to the first section and gently placed the instrument in the arms of a small boy. And finally during the encore of “Stand Up,” another young child was handed a large white flag with the word Love (which included a peace sign). With the help of a couple of adults, the child was escorted down the arena floor as the band and crowd sang “Won’t you stand up and use your voice?”

The band ended the night with “C’mon Eileen,” which featured Sara Bareilles, the tour’s splendid and engaging opening act.

15 comments Add your comment

Chris

October 23rd, 2011
9:55 am

Their shows are very good…but very short. Kinda lazy for the money they are making for the performance.

Tech Hater

October 23rd, 2011
10:23 am

We were there, great show – we’ve loved Jennifer & Kristen since their days with Soul Miner’s Daughter and Billy Pilgrim.

The review didn’t even mention ‘Stay’, one of Jennifer’s most powerful vocals and such an emotional song.

JJ

October 23rd, 2011
10:34 am

The show was so much fun. Love the energy of the band and the interaction with the crowd. Can’t wait until the next tour!!! /// The extra surprises that were mentioned (Sara’s band dressed as Dolly, Britney, etc….Sara dressed as Kristen…Darth Vadar running on stage) were pranks that Sara’s band & Sugarland played on each other because it was the last show of the tour. It is tradition for touring bands to play pranks on each other the last night of the tour. // The stage was “bare, minimalist” because the stage setup and instruments were lost in the tragedy at the Indy State Fair.

Too bad

October 23rd, 2011
10:41 am

Jennifer is not from Atlanta…She is from South Ga…Douglas, Coffee Co..I don’t know why the AJC continues to say she is from ATL

Spell It Correctly

October 23rd, 2011
10:50 am

It’s not KRISTEN but KRISTIAN. You’re not from around here are you Tracy Brown?

SugarFan

October 23rd, 2011
11:26 am

Thank you “Spell It Correctly”. This article needed an extra pair of eyes on it before being published. Kristian is originally from Knoxville and currently from Avondale Estates.

David Kim

October 23rd, 2011
11:53 am

Sugarland’s ATL show was absolutely a blast. great vocal by Jennifer and strings by Kristiana nd the band.Who were the mebbers from Cochran and Swainsboro as they are from my neck of the woods. I grewup in Swainsboro and was curious.

Tracy Brown

October 23rd, 2011
12:14 pm

To Spell it Correctly and Sugar Fan, I’m wrong, you’re right. And yes, I could have used an extra pair of eyes at 1:30 in the morning. Also, there’s much discussion about where Jennifer and Kristian are really from, which is why I went with the places they themselves referred to as their hometown during the show — Atlanta and Decatur.

Mary

October 23rd, 2011
3:13 pm

Hey Rob——tell AJC YOU need to shoot BB KING PULLEEASEEe in December Your photos are the best!

Gena Miller

October 23rd, 2011
8:24 pm

The show may be short but certainly not lazy…. Really? How could that even be a comment. You try to do all they do without a break night after night! please!

SugarFan

October 23rd, 2011
10:30 pm

Tracy, super impressed that you are reading comments. The joke is on all of us. They mostly lied when they were telling us where the band members are from. Thad, Annie, and Travis are all from Nashville right now, but Annie is originally from New Orleans. Scott is from Atlanta. Swainsboro/Cairo/Cochran was all a joke. It gets the fans all riled up when they hear their hometown. They take it from Brad Paisley, who introduces his band every night with names of cities in that state.

Chris

October 23rd, 2011
10:54 pm

Uh Hello Jennifer is from Atlanta and to be exact she is from Decatur.. If you dont know the correct info dont comment…….. I used to go see her all the time at Eddie’s Attic. Well this is when they had three in the band. Hmm did you know they had a third person until they fired her for personal reasons… NOW YOU DO!!!!!

Sugarlover

October 24th, 2011
3:33 pm

Chris, as any true fan knows, Jennifer grew up in Douglas, GA, then moved to Atlanta and Decatur when she went to Agnes Scott College.

Bob A

October 24th, 2011
4:05 pm

Who cares where they from… the show was great, she is a doll and he is great on guitar…They loved coming back to GEORGIA, which is their home. It was worth every penny I paid for pit access. To the ones who say they didn’t play long enough–I say that with that energy level it is hard to play much longer… great show, great band and very personable!!!! Ill go again..

[...] Sugarland learn they can always go home to Atlanta. [...]