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For the first time since the mass shooting that took place during Jason Aldean’s set at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, the country singer sat down with the Today show on Tuesday morning (Nov. 14) to explain how he felt on that horrible night.
Aldean described the moments leading up to him running off stage after he realized what was going on. “So when it first happened, I thought a speaker had blown is what I thought. It just sounded like a crackling something,” he said. “And so, you know, I’m kind of looking around like, ‘What is that?’ Trying to figure out what it is. Well then it stopped. So I was like, alright well they must have got it fixed. And so I kept doing my thing, and then it happened again and it lasted longer the second time.”
Aldean explained that as the sound continued, the reality of the situation did not hit him until he looked around to see where his guitarist was. “So then I was actually kind of getting aggravated, so I looked over at my monitor guy that’s on the side of the stage as if to say, ‘What is that?’ And, ‘fix it.’ And when I turned to look my guitar player had run behind me and was telling me to move, to ‘let’s go,’ and my security guy was running on stage telling me to run.”
“It was so hectic, I mean you just, everybody was scrambling,” Aldean said of the moments that followed. “You just didn’t know what was going on. It was just panic, is probably the best way I could describe it. I think everybody just kind of panicked and didn’t really know where to go or what to do, ‘cause I mean we’re not in that situation. I mean, I’ve never been in that situation before you know, and obviously nobody else out there had either. So it was just kind of crazy. Pandemonium.”
The singer explained that seeing his family was his first priority after leaving Vegas, but that quickly leaving the area didn’t give him time to properly process the trauma. Of course, as we have seen from the Nov. 12 Country Rising benefit show where he and some fellow country stars including Lady Antebellum, Sam Hunt, and more performed and raised $4 million for victims of this tragedy, as well as for hurricane relief – getting back to work was therapeutic. Aldean added, “Honestly being back onstage probably helped us more than anything.”
Aldean has obviously been very moved by the tragedy — which took the lives of 58 fans and injured more than 500 — offering a bit of insight as to how the worst mass shooting in modern American history made him think about some of the political issues that arose in its wake regarding gun control. “I feel like at the end of the day there’s so much focus on you know, politics and race and all these other things that just, you know at the end of the day we’re all in this together,” he said. “We spend so much time arguing with each other and not enough time working on the issue that’s really the problem.”
Of course, one of Aldean’s first priorities is healing for himself, and for his fans – which he’s tried to accomplish by returning to Vegas to visit those harmed at the festival. “I just hope everybody can start to heal and some of this stuff you never get over, but I hope it gets better for everybody as time goes on.”
View the entire interview, below.
This story first appeared on billboard.com
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