Blog by Ashley

Ive had a lot of memories in my 23 years of living, but not a single memory in that time lives up to that warm spring day in Columbia a year ago. I remember every second as if it happened yesterday. We made the three-hour drive from my hometown of Winchester, Virginia. None of us knew what to expect going to Merriweather Post Pavilion for the first time.

My sister and I purchased tickets for the Sugar Pit and wanted to be sure we were in line in time to get a good standing spot. So we parked in a distant lot and made a long walk to the gates hours before they opened. A handful of other Sugarfans were already lined up anxiously awaiting those precious gates to open while Little Big Town performed sound check in the background. After what seemed like an eternity, the gates were opened and we quickly made our way to the concrete jungle just in front of the stage.

From there we would stand for the some of the best, most amazing hours of my life. Once Matt Nathanson took the stage, thoughts of our achy legs and obnoxiously drunk crowd behind us quickly dissipated as we listened and rocked to his smooth voice and beautifully composed lyrics. Sugarlands band and Kristian joined him, giving us a taste of things to come. Next, Little Big Town took the stage, taking the crowd from a Little White Church all the way out to the Boondocks. Each member of the band made eye contact with me in the crowd. I felt like I was the only one in the Pavilion and time was standing still. When the end of their set-list came, it quickly snapped me out my little world I was consumed in.

The rest is a blur until the lights went down and Michael Jacksons voice rang through the loud speakers. Screams vibrated through the arena and we all started to sing at the top of our lungs, It dont matter if youre black or white. Cut the music and the lights. Total darkness in an arena packed with screaming fans. I feel the breeze hit me as the curtain drops from the stage. Bright lights and the familiar sound Ive listened to over and over again, Fire like lightning, burning up the night. Smoke horizon, wont give up the fight. Jennifers voice cut through the warm May air. All We Are would open it up.

Jennifer and Kristian danced on the stage as the Incredible Machine heart and wings lit up the background behind them. Ive been to a half a dozen Sugarland concerts, but in the Sugarpit you can almost touch them. Up close and personal with Jennifer and Kristian made the experience one to remember. Their facial expressions, dance moves, and pure energy electrify you more when you see it up close than on a big jumbo-tron screen. It was incredible to see their interaction with each other and even more incredible when one of them would make eye contact with me in the crowd. And just when I thought it couldnt get much better, Matt Nathanson came back out on the stage to perform Run. This was the first time I had heard the song, and I fell in love with it from the beginning.

The chemistry and the blend of Matt and Jens extraordinary voices was magical. Its always a treat when Sugarland covers other artists as well. As "Find the Beat" slowly morphed into a rendition of "Sweet Caroline," I forgot I was at a concert, and felt like I was at a bar singing with a few thousand of my friends. Encores are always fun when covers are added, so when the familiar tune to a certain Madonna song started to play, the crowd went nuts. s like a dream, no end or no beginning Lost in the dream watching Jen sing one of my favorite songs from the 80s, I hear screams behind me and turn to the right side of the stage to see Little Big Town coming to join in the fun. Let the choir sing!

Finally, with a group of people in the news preaching about the impending end of the world, it was fitting and comical the final song of the night (with help from LBT and Matt) was the End of the World As We Know It. Watching all of my favorite singers on stage dancing and singing one of R.E.M.s top hits was a memory I will never forget. I wanted to live in that moment forever, but just like the songs message for the world, the concert came to an end. The singers ran off the stage, the overhead lights turned back on and we embarked on the long trek to our cars and back home to Virginia. It was a day I will never forget. Sugarland always puts on a great show, but that May night in Columbia wasnt just a show, it was an experience. I danced in the pit with new Sugarfriends and saw a powerful performance just feet away on stage. That is why May 22, 2011 will remain as one of the best days of my life.

Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your story with us! Only one more left, Sugarfans so stay tuned!

From sugarlandmusic.com

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