Last week Matchbox Twenty & Counting Crows came to Hersheypark Stadium for “A Brief History of Everything Tour” – the two bands combined dominated radio airwaves across the country in the early 2000’s and have had great success extending their careers into 2017 with a steady flow of new material. Supporting the two co-headline artists were Rivers & Rust, a side project of Matchbox Twenty guitarist Kyle Cook. Summer has begun to wind down in the region and the “A Brief History of Everything Tour” was a great way to start wrapping up that concert series as we transition to cold fall nights and the winter arena season ahead. The stadium was full, not Paul McCartney or Twentyonepilots full like the summer of 2016, but full enough that at first thought you might have thought it was 2001 again. However just because you thought that didn’t mean that it was – Counting Crows took the stage following a brief, yet impactful set from Rivers & Rust.
The band casually walked out on stage but things took a turn for the dramatic as their stage lighting burst to life with an intensity that was hard to look at directly at times. Fans in the further regions could be seen squinting at the blinding light with no alternative choice to look at as the venue didn’t have video screens up – an odd choice for a stadium show of this size. 2001 or 2017 the Counting Crows still put on a fantastic show and a lot of their material has aged well over the years, the band kicked off the night with a kick punch of “Hard Candy” and “Omaha” and would bring out “Round Here” early on as well. Fans were overjoyed to sing a long with one of their favorite songs from the band’s long career but the performance took a turn from there.
There would be no “Mr. Jones” for Hershey, PA amongst others as the band decided to take a more artistic route with their set pulling out some deep cuts to the satisfaction and frustration of the crowd. A few of the songs were drug out longer than they needed to be which left many fans frustrated and in between sets it was clear that some felt they weren’t given the performance they had expected. I respect Counting Crows decision to avoid some material they have been playing for decades as it has to get tough to play the same few songs every night but I do feel there is a fine line when too much is cut out. Regardless the band put on a stellar show for the Hershey crowd backed with an even more impressive light show.
When Matchbox Twenty hit the stage it felt as if a rush of new energy came alive in the stadium as a rainbow array of uniquely angle lighting illuminated the massive crowd. The band, not taking a card from Counting Crows playbook, focused on the singles and started out early with “Real World” being the first track. There was no shortage of sing-a-long moments during their set as Rob Thomas paraded across the stage and made sure to interact with every angle of the massive crowd that evening. The highlight of the evening certainly came early with an incredible performance of “How Far We’ve Come” that had every fan in attendance off their feat jumping in the air, “3AM” during the encore also continued this energy as the crowd showed that they were ready to party even if it was a Monday night. 2001, 2017, Monday or Friday – Pennsylvania is always ready for a good concert as they showed last week.