Jason Aldean tried it in a big town and found out.
In what they say was an answer to a challenge from the singer’s controversial single “Try That in a Small Town, about 20 protesters associated with the Revolution Club Chicago demonstrated Saturday outside Aldean’s concert at Credit Union 1 Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. The organization identifies itself as “revolutionary communists.”
“Aldean’s ‘Try That in a Small Town’ isn’t just a racist lynching anthem, it’s a call to fascist civil war!” Leo Pargo, one of the group’s leaders, said in a statement from the Revolution Club Chicago. “Aldean has said people who burn the American flag should ‘Try That in a Small Town’ and ‘see how far you make it down the road.’ We accepted the challenge, Jason! We burned that rag right outside your concert… AND we’ll do it again! We lit the American flag on fire because this country has only ever stood for slavery, genocide and war.”
The demonstrators also carried a banner that read, “No more lynch mobs in and out of uniform.”
Per the group’s official declaration, it believes that the “existing capitalist-imperialist system and institutions of government in this country must be abolished and dismantled — and replaced by a new, socialist system based on the constitution for the new socialist republic in North America.”
“‘Jason Aldean’s country hit, it’s a pile of fascist s—!’ #JasonAldean’s frothing fascist fans didn’t like our message too much ;),” the group wrote in an X post sharing a video of its action.
The social media clip also showed one of the organization’s members, identified as Rafael Kadaris by the Chicago Tribune, shouting into a megaphone, “Guess what Jason [Aldean]? We will try that in a small town. We will try that in a big city. And we will try it right in front of your concert.”
At the video’s end, Pargo burned a U.S. flag. He told the Tribune that his actions were defended speech and that people in the United States “have been lied to about communism.”
The organization claimed that after it burned several U.S. flags, police called the protest “unlawful” because it was “disturbing and alarming others.”
“If we disturbed these Jason Aldean fans and these police enforcers, GOOD!” Kadaris said in the same statement. “What’s really disturbing and alarming is that Aldean’s lynch mob anthem about murdering protesters and people who burn the American flag went to the top of the music charts this summer.”
Aldean’s representatives did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.
Aldean’s “Try That in a Small Town” received online backlash due to its subject matter. The music video for the track features footage from protests, break-ins, surveillance cameras and other interactions between civilians and law enforcement. Critics say the video — reportedly filmed at the site of a notorious lynching — employs lynching imagery and sentiment.
The country singer labeled allegations that the song or video made references to lynching or that it is racially charged as “meritless” and “dangerous.”
“There is not a single lyric in the song that references race or points to it — and there isn’t a single video clip that isn’t real news footage — and while I can try and respect others to have their own interpretation of a song with music — this one goes too far,” he tweeted.
Lyrics for the song include: “Got a gun that my granddad gave me / They say one day they’re gonna round up / Well, that s— might fly in the city, good luck / Well, try that in a small town / See how far ya make it down the road / Around here, we take care of our own.”
After the controversy, the video was removed from rotation on CMT, a television channel dedicated to showing country music videos, per Billboard.
“As Tennessee lawmakers, we have an obligation to condemn Jason Aldean’s heinous song calling for racist violence,” state Rep. Justin Jones, a Democrat, tweeted. Among the other prominent voices denouncing “Try That in a Small Town” was Sheryl Crow, who tweeted that “there’s nothing small-town or American about promoting violence.”