[image-1] They say never meet your heroes. This Saturday, at the Bud Light Getaway Concert, held at North Chuck’s Riverfront Park, I tested that theory. Arriving at the venue wearing both my journalist hat (in the form of my voice recorder) and my huge fan hat (in the form of a stupid grin I couldn’t wipe off of my face), I prepared to interview three artists who have each had a massive impact on my life. And no, Bud Light did not pay me to say that.

The concert featured performances from Lil Jon, Dashboard Confessional, and Sam Hunt. While the average person may respond to that lineup with a “WTF?” I responded with a hearty, “Hell yes!”

Well, I met my heroes on Saturday (unfortunately due to time constraints I didn’t actually talk to Lil Jon but he appeared to be quite nice. But, he informed a Fox 24 reporter that Bud Light Orange is his preferred Bud Light varietal if you’re putting together a care package). That theory about not meeting them is dumb. They were awesome.

Lil Jon’s “Get Low” was the soundtrack of every high school party I snuck out of my house to attend. Who are we kidding? It was at the parties my mom wouldn’t let me go to. Regardless, to the window, to the wall. [image-3] Dashboard’s A Mark, a mission, a Brand, a Scar was the first album a friend ever put on a mixtape for me. To this day I will drop any and everything to sing every word to every song.

“I’m happy to meet you, I’m a big fan,” I told Chris Carrabba, Dashboard’s lead singer and the guy everyone associates with the band. “I’m happy to hear that, I’m at ease now,” he said. *Cue grin*

I told Carrabba that his songs were important in my formative years and that made sense to him — “I started writing these songs in my formative years, and [for a lot of people] that’s why it’s connected on that level.” The Cure was to Carrabba what he was to me: “Somehow somebody that was cooler than me, said you should listen to this band and it changed my life. This was somebody that was somehow writing lyrically, convincingly what I couldn’t possibly say — but felt.” Same.

Sam Hunt’s “Leave the Night On,” played on the radio as I drove around a few years ago, helplessly looking for love. And then, when he came out with “House Party,” I turned the volume up even louder, waiting for my knight in shining boots to come to my house. Don’t even get me started on “Take Your Time.”

Hunt’s music is constantly dissected (maybe just by Country music super fans, but ya know), with fans and critics alike trying to find the truth in his songs — it’s a natural inclination, especially after Hunt admitted that his debut album, Montevallo, was named after his now-wife’s hometown. [image-2] So, are his songs all truth all the time, or does he use a little artistic license? “I like to tuck it back typically,” says Hunt. “But I have had moments, there was an era in popular music where honesty was sort of trending so I sort of pushed my stuff into that lane a little bit. But typically I like to tuck the truth back and hide it a little more. I’ll exaggerate a situation or a truth that I might relate to, but maybe my experience wasn’t quite interesting enough for a song.”

Based on the crowd — a sold out audience of 3,000 — Hunt’s songs are plenty interesting. Most of the people I talked to were excited to see each performer. Who doesn’t dance the minute they hear Lil Jon’s “Turn Down For What?” Who hasn’t cried to at least one Dashboard song? Even Country music haters can’t help but sing along to Hunt’s “Body Like a Backroad” (tell me I’m wrong).

The Bud Light flacks I talked to said the company just wanted to get a diverse group of people together for this concert — they figured the odds were good that the average music lover would want to see at least one of the performers.

As the sun set and Dashboard finished up their set, I held my Bud Light in the air (I don’t particularly like Bud Light, for the record, but hey). I scream-sang “Hands Down,” nodding at my emo brothers and sisters doing the same thing. We didn’t know each other. But we sang into our aluminum bottles, bumping shoulders. Buds forever, or something like that.