Straw hats and ice cold beer helped the concert-goers stay cool under the hot desert sun at Stagecoach 2014, California’s three-day long music festival that took place at the Empire Polo club in Indio, CA over the weekend.
From shirtless cowboys to some of the best music on country radio, there was much to admire and enjoy at the massive concert. Here are some of the highlights that best illustrate how California does country.
Day 1 kicked off with the boot-stomping, head bobbing music of Ricky Young, Joel King, Taylor Burns and Preston Wimberly, collectively known as the Wild Feathers. The rock-inspired folk band opened at the Palomino Stage, setting up a perfectly energetic mood for the crowd with songs from its 2013 self-titled album.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with admirable acts such as Kalleigh Bannen, Shakey Graves and Sam Outlaw, while singer and songwriter Eric Paslay ushered in the evening on the Toyota Mane Stage with a collection of massive hits of his own as well as singles he has co-written for other artists. Included were Paslay’s “Friday Night,” Love and Theft’s “Angel Eyes” and Jake Owen’s “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” which he dubbed as “Barefoot Stagecoach Night” for the evening.
Thomas Rhett followed with an unforgettable set. The Georgia-born guitarist and vocalist got the crowd hyped with songs that started off with music from popular hip-hop tracks and transitioned into a more recognizable country sound. His set included his first number one hit as a songwriter titled “It Goes Like This,” a tribute to the “All-American Middle Class White Boy” as well as a preview to what to expect on his upcoming album.
The night ended with country’s bad boy Eric Church, who headlined Friday night seven years after his first Stagecoach stint in 2007, when he was just an up-and-comer as opposed to the proven and cemented mega-star that he is today.
Church held true to his country-mixed-with rock sound with a 90-minute set that began with “That’s Damn Rock & Roll,” and ended with “Springsteen.” He also electrified the crowd with “Drink in My Hand,” “Smoke a Little Smoke” and rebel-anthem “The Outsiders,” among others.
Day 2 mid-day lineup was all about rising stars on the country scene, including The Voice winner Danielle Bradbery, Dan + Shay and the five-man Minnesota band Trampled by Turtles.
For the last half of the night, the Mane Stage became progressively more crowded as Tyler Farr, Jennifer Nettles and Hunter Hayes performed their sets, leading up to the night’s close-out act with Jason Aldean, one of the biggest names in contemporary country music.
Aldean entertained the crowd with hit after hit as they sang along to the lyrics of “Crazy Town,” “Take a Little Ride,” “When She Says Baby” and the addictively catchy tune “1994.”
Also featured during his set was a hologram of Kelly Clarkson, with which he performed the duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”
Shelly Covin, Sleepy Man Banjo Boys and Chris Cagle were among the artists to round out Sunday’s afternoon mix as fest-goers danced and sang along, despite the hangover fatigue that was undoubtedly felt by the crowd throughout the earlier part of the day.
But by the time smooth-voiced country crooner Dustin Lynch stepped out on stage, any evidence of exhaustion was wiped away and a new wave of energy swept the crowd as they tried to relish in the last few hours of the live music and festivities.
Lee Brice prepped the audience for Florida Georgia Line and headliner Luke Bryan with a dazzling set that included performances of “Hard to Love,” “Beer” and the heartwarming “I Don’t Dance.”
Florida Georgia Line, comprised of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, played their second Stagecoach in a row and amped up the crowd with explosive hits “Cruise,” “Get Your Shine On,” “Round Here” and “This is How We Roll” among other singles.
The night and festival closed out with the man seemingly every other attendee we spoke with was there to see: Luke Bryan.
The hip-swiveling, rump-shaking, tight jean-wearing country favorite had fans as energized and excited as ever as he was welcomed out on stage by a line of fire and the roar of the crowd.
The singer opened with “My Kind of Night” and made sure the crowd took every advantage of the fact that it was its last night at the country festival.
“Are y’all ready to party your ass off with me?” he asked as the rest of the crowd moved their behinds right along with him.