Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia
The live music capital of the world didn’t just “get weird” on Saturday May 2nd, we got country. We headed to the Frank Erwin Center, paired our favorite plaid shirt with our most comfortable cowboy boots, and celebrated what Texas is truly about – country music and beer. Hosted by country music icons Darius Rucker and Jennifer Nettles, iHeartRadio brought the biggest country music festivals of the year to Austin for the second time in a row. The line-up consisted of some of the most renowned country music artists like Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, and Dierks Bentley. Known for keeping things current, iHeartRadio’s star-studded line-up also included newer but less traditional country artists like Sam Hunt, Brantley Gilbert, and The Band Perry.
With an eleven artist line-up, it was a jam-packed evening, literally. iHeartRadio’s revolving stage provided smooth transitions between performances and artists kept their sets relatively short by playing their hottest singles. Brad Paisley, one of the more well-known country artists of the line-up, was the perfect festival opener. When he played a few of his older hits like “Mud On The Tires” and “Alcohol,” we knew what the night was going to be about – kicking back and having a cold one!
Brad Paisley performing onstage for iHeartRadio’s 2015 Country Festival. Photo by Brian Friedman for iHeartRadio.
New artists, Tyler Farr and Brantley Gilbert set the stage with an edgy spin on country music. Farr won us over with his rustic voice and soon after, country music bad boy, Brantley Gilbert hit the stage. Brews were flowing as the crowd sang along to the lyrics “tonight is bottoms up” (Gilbert’s 2013 hit single).
Dierks Bentley hit the stage next and gave the audience a perfect mix of feel-good favorites, coupled with a few more solemn songs, including unforgettable performances of “I Hold On” and “Riser” from his most recent album. Of course, he kept the theme of the evening consistent and finished his set in good humor with crowd pleaser “Getting Drunk On A Plane.” Soon after, Justin Moore graced the stage with a wide brimmed cowboy hat and led the most authentic country music performance of the night. He delivered a set of heartfelt songs, inclining members of the audience to raise their cell phones in unity, lighting up the arena. He showed us a little bit about the small-town lifestyle with his earlier collaboration of “Small Town Throwdown” with Brantley Gilbert, but one of the highlights of the night was when Moore closed his set with his first career number one hit (2009), “Small Town USA.”
Justin Moore performing onstage during iHeartRadio’s 2015 Country Festival. Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia.
The transition from Justin Moore’s performance to pop-country sibling trio, The Band Perry, was the biggest contrast of the night. Their set was full of fast-tempoed songs, blurring the lines between country and pop music. They slowed things down with their popular ballad “If I Die Young,” but the biggest surprise of the evening was their cover of Mark Ronson’s popular song “Uptown Funk.” Even though this fell very far from the realms of country music, it was very well received by all generations at the festival. Next up, the co-ed and well known quartet, Little Big Town impressed us with their powerful stage presence. The Frank Erwin Center grew quiet as we were blown away by band member, Karen Fairchild’s vocal delivery of hit single “Girl Crush.”
Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town performing onstage during iHeartRadio’s 2015 Country Festival. Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia.
From his snapback hat to wearing a ripped shirtsleeve as an accessory, new artist and country music heartthrob, Sam Hunt, was a standout of the evening with his unconventional country vibes. Hunt immediately drew in female fans with his hit “Break Up In A Small Town,” once again, showing us the pop side of modern country music. He continued to woo fans by playing everyone’s new favorite love song “Take Your Time” as well as “Leave The Night On,” which have both received a large amount of radio play over the past year. As he sang lyrics “we don’t have to go home, we can leave the night on,” we knew we were in it for the long haul with still three remaining artists left on the bill! Loveable country music artist, Darius Rucker hit the stage shortly after. True to his most recent album, he delivered a Southern Style performance with the inclusion of hits like “Alright,” “Homegrown” and one of our favorite covers turned country “Wagon Wheel.” Rucker showed Austin a good time and even crowd surfed through part of his set!
Sam Hunt performing onstage during the 2015 iHeartRadio Country Festival. Photo by Andrew Swartz for iHeartRadio.
The night came to a close with well-known country music trio, Rascal Flatts and big name artist, Tim McGraw following suit. Although they have stayed out of the limelight for the past couple of years, the crowd sang along wholeheartedly to Rascal Flatt’s 2006 hit “What Hurts The Most” and their popular cover of Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is A Highway.” For the grand finale, it was only fitting that one of the most iconic country music stars would close out the night, the birthday man himself, Tim McGraw. And yes – all attendees at the Frank Erwin Center did sing “Happy Birthday” loud and proud to the now 48-year-old. His six-song set included number one hits from his lengthy and respectable music career. Recent single “Shotgun Rider” was a favorite as well as old school tunes like “Where The Green Grass Grows” and “Something Like That.” The festival was filled with spectacular performances across the board, but there was no better end to the evening than with Mcgraw’s moving performance of 2004 hit song “Live Like You Were Dying.”
Tim McGraw performs onstage during the 2015 iHeartRadio Country Festival. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for iHeartMedia.
It was a great night for mainstream country music fans with exceptional performances from the most relevant country music artists today. From our newer country music stars that live on the edge of pop and rock genres, to iconic artists that have won praise in the country music world, iHeartRadio did a fantastic job of showcasing modern country music.
If you missed the festival, you can catch the NBC live broadcast on May 27th from 9-11pm ET/CT. You can also check out iHeartRadio’s best photos of the night!
I always thought it was odd to have a tribute to band when the band is still around but why not? Tonight Stubb’s is giving you an opportunity to jam out at a Metallica tribute. (This is NOT Metallica, this is only a tribute).
For those that want to see the real thing, it was announced this week that Metallica will headline Saturday night at X Games Austin next month.
When: today, May 14th
Time: 8 pm
801 Red River Street
Austin, Texas 78701
There is never a shortage of free live music in Austin. Perhaps that is why we are known as the Live Music Capital of The World. Last month, Unplugged at the Grove kicked off, and this month Blues on the Green will get underway. For you Texas Music fans, KOKE FM is going doing a free Texas Music Series at the Hills Café.
ProTip: go a tad early and have dinner before. Their chicken fried steak is some of the best in town.
Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you’re spending it with the ones you love.
If you’re lucky enough to have your mom close by, The Austin Symphonic Band is providing the perfect way to wind down the evening. This free concert is on the lawn of the capitol, and they’ll be playing some of your favorite tunes as the sun sets over Austin. Don’t forget to bring your cameras because between the sunset, the capitol and family time, you’re sure to get a great shot!
Special shout out to my mom, Happy Mother’s Day! I love you so much, and I’m so grateful for all the support, encouragement and love you unconditionally give me.
When: today, May 10th
Time: 7 – 8 pm
The Capitol South Steps
1100 Congress Aveune
Austin, Texas 78701
Austin’s favorite soul band released their debut Vinyl , Good As Gold and they’re having a party to celebrate! Their good friends Akina Adderley and The Vintage Playboys will be joining them, and if you’ve ever seen The NIGHTOWLS play you know it’s going to be one heck of a dance party! They always rock the house with those old time favorites that you can’t seem to get enough of. There’s no doubt you’ll leave craving more tunes and researching when you can see them again!
One of Austin’s oldest and longest running festivals is back! The Pecan Street Festival is one of those classic Austin festivals.
If you’ve never been, it’s a gigantic street fair with music, art, kids activities, jewelry, giant turkey legs, and all kinds of other cool stuff. It’s actually the largest art festival in Central Texas, attracting over 300,000 people!
They have tons of distinctively Austin attractions, including a facial hair groomer. It’s just a good time and a perfect activity for the kiddos.
Be sure to bring your appetite. They’ll have food vendors all over the place for you to grab a bite.