Nothing Weird Here: iHeartRadio Country Festival Keeps Austin Country [Pictures]
'Keep Austin Weird' is the slogan in the capital city of Texas, but on Saturday night (May 2), Tim McGraw, Brantley Gilbert, Justin Moore, the Band Perry and a handful of others made Austin country as all get-out for the second-annual iHeartRadio Country Festival.
The radio company has chosen Austin's drum-shaped Frank Erwin Center as the home of the event — the city is the former home of national radio personality Bobby Bones — and it fits like a boot, even smack in the middle of downtown. The arena is big enough to invite thousands of country music's biggest fans to get rowdy, but small enough that you don't necessarily need binoculars to feel a part of the action.
And there was a lot of action. Unlike typical festival lineups, iHeartCountry opted not to start small with newcomers and build up to the big names, even allowing the 'small' acts test out new songs on the crowd. The result was something fun and unexpected. Brad Paisley kicked off the show with a set of his big hits, getting the audience to
sing scream along with his latest, "Crushin' It," which set the tone for the evening.
Dierks Bentley probably deserves the crown for most diverse and powerful set. When he wasn't making nods to the sky in honor of his late father, the star was joking about smashing his prized guitar on the stage and getting "Drunk on a Plane," with the ACM Video of the Year playing on a screen behind him. Fans, of course, went nuts for that one.
Tyler Farr brought one of the strongest performances of the night (overheard in the bathroom: "That Tyler Farr guy has a voice!"), but the highlight was — hands down — the Band Perry's funk. The sibling trio rocked the room with Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' viral hit "Uptown Funk." The song lyrics include the line: "Saturday night and we in the spot / Don’t believe me just watch," which was appropriate on a Saturday night, and appropriate given the in-sync choreographed dance the Perrys did while they sang.
"Take Your Time" hitmaker Sam Hunt was miraculously able to be in two places almost at once — after opening Lady Antebellum's Wheels Up show in Dallas three hours north the same night, he made it to Austin. We would have believed that he ran there, because Hunt was on such an energy high that he darted around the floor practically giddy, dripping with sweat as women screamed and surrounded him — a sight for sure.
iHeartRadio's 2015 Country Festival wrapped with a loud performance from a smiling Tim McGraw. Perhaps he was intended to be the night's "headliner," but great as he was — and drunk and crazy as the Texas crowd was by midnight, when he hit the stage — the music icon couldn't outshine the great talent that led up to his show closer. McGraw is on the road this summer for his Shotgun Rider tour, which includes a headlining stop at both the Taste of Country Music Festival and Country Jam in Colorado.
If you missed the fun in Texas this weekend, no worries – the 2015 iHeartRadio Country Festival will air in a two-hour concert special on NBC on May 27.
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