By Mandy Slegers
It was another HOT weekend out at Stagecoach this year – the sun was hot, the guys and gals were hot and of course all of the artists were hot! Once again The Stagecoach Festival was a great big country party that lasted all weekend. With three days to the festival again this year, you can never get enough great country artists in one place like you do in Coachella, California once a year.
One thing that was not so hot about the set up this year was the parking set up. If you drove yourself or were dropped off by a cab, you had to walk a LONG way through dirt or the RV areas to get to the venue. Part of the reason the parking was different this year was to accommodate the new “camping” areas that were added. These spaces were big enough for one car and one tent. This was a popular choice for the younger crowd as it was a cheaper option than the RV area. If you are ok with being HOT, using porta potties and portable showers, this is the place for you. I personally would rather stay in the RV section, there is so much to do outside the venue and you are so close you can avoid that long dirty walk. Needless to say my feet were blistered by the time the weekend was through. But it was all worth it – this was by far one of my favorite line-up of artists since the first year!
I always take a deep breath as I make my way into the venue and see the sprawling layout, with the large reserved-seating section extending out from the primary Mane Stage in what seems like endless rows and rows of people on blankets and lawn chairs behind it. While young people were probably the majority at Stagecoach, bands like Alabama, Kenny Rogers and Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers were still able to appeal to all age ranges and get the crowd to their feet.
The evenings cooled off to be the perfect temperature outside, drink a few beers and enjoy the show. There was plenty of food and beverages to choose from and of course the beer garden is the standard default location. The beer garden is the perfect place to meet up with your friends, get some shade and a few drinks. The lines to get a beer were a little crazy and unorganized, but there were plenty of girls in bikinis and guys wanting to be Jason Aldean walking around to keep you entertained.
Friday night was an added bonus and had more of a laid back atmosphere as there were only a handful of artists playing. The Eli Young Band, Sarah Evans, Alabama and of course Jason Aldean did an amazing job. I was very excited that Alabama was at Stagecoach this year! They have been around for more than 40 years and still have a substantial following. For those who grew up in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, their music is probably deep-rooted in our minds more than we realize. But the crowd around me seemed to be more concerned with partying than actually listening to the music, biding their time until Jason Aldean came on. Ironically enough, when Jason Aldean came on stage he made the comment that one of his favorite bands just played referring to Alabama.
When Jason played “Crazy Town” the crowd went wild. Some line dancing and singing even bust out around me. Singing his hit duet with Kelly Clarkson, “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” featured the female star on a video screen to accompany him. At first I thought that she was actually there, and I wasn’t the only one. You could sense the crowd was disappointed.
Saturday was my favorite day of the festival by far as far as the lineup goes. Venturing away from the Mane Stage to see Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers play on the Mustang Stage, was well worth it! The area was packed and the vibe was light hearted and very entertaining. Who wouldn’t want to see Steve Martin playing a banjo and singing!
On the Mane Stage, came Luke Bryan following the Mavericks. Bryan kept Stagecoach’s party atmosphere energetic with good-time tunes that were favorites among the all of those who were very inebriated. Bryan and his band opened with his number one country single “Rain Is a Good Thing” and proceeded to ask people if they were ready to “get frisky.” Again getting the crowd to their feet, cheering.
The second night of the festival ended with the hottest power couple in country music, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. Shelton has no problem getting the crowd going, singing along and dancing to every song. Shelton sung favorites like “Hillbilly Bone”, “Kiss My Country Ass”, “God Gave Me You” and of course his newest hit, “Drink On It”, which everyone in the crowd was doing.
Following Shelton was his lovely wife Miranda Lambert who always sets the stage on fire. Lamert puts on a GREAT live show and still manages to be down to earth. One of the set’s highlights was her was her classic “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” She made the comment “I like having my husband open for me!” Lambert brought her fellow band mates, the Pistol Annies and RaeLynn from the Voice. It was a crowd favorite when Miranda and RaeLynn sang Maroon 5’s “Wake Up Call”. Lambert and Shelton sang a heartfelt rendition of “Home” together to close out the show. After seeing Blake and Miranda the first year at Stagecoach, I’m glad they were back again this year!
Sunday, the third and final day of the festival, my main goal was to see The Band Perry. When the band performed their lead single from their self-titled debut album, “If I Die Young,” I was immediately swept away by the song’s emotion. They also sang a fun rendition of Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” which was fun but left a little something to be desired. The crowd loved them and I hope to see the Band Perry headlining a night of Stagecoach sometime in the future.
I caught a little of Martina McBride as I was walking around the vendor/food area. McBride gave a terrific performance from what I could hear. She sang some of her most popular songs such as “Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong”, “Teenage Daughters”, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It, “and “Marry Me”. Needless to say, she can sing anything with that voice of hers and sound wonderful.
I was not sure I was going to come back this year after being unimpressed with all the business of last year. I feel that some people just come for the “party” and do not truly enjoy all the great country artists. The lineup was so great this year I couldn’t resist. And I have to say I feel that everything was a little more organized and flowed better than it has in the past. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for us next year!