For the first time in several years, CMA Fest is facing a forecast that features rain on each of the four days. As hopeful as performers and concert-goers were that Zeus may be forgiving, the rain fell on night one. While it was pretty significant at times, the rain did nothing to soak the enthusiasm of the crowd that packed Nashville’s Nissan Stadium.
Six of country’s most celebrated acts and a plethora of special guests represented country music’s iconic legends, platinum level superstars, and electric emerging artists. And 30-minutes each was just not long enough, even in the rain.
Tanya Tucker may have had the biggest singalong of the night with “Delta Dawn,” reminding fans that country music has a rich history of killer music. But it also has an appreciation for the contemporary, so when Brandi Carlile joined Tanya it seemed fitting…and it was magical.
Speaking of contemporary and magical, between the falling rain and the passionate Kane-iacs, Kane Brown’s 30-minutes really felt more like five as he peeled off hits like “What Ifs” and “Heaven” and brought out the sassy “Short Skirt Weather.”
While the artists were mostly protected from the weather, most of them, including Kane and Kelsea Ballerini, couldn’t resist pushing themselves to the edge of the stage to connect with their most staunch and sopping wet supporters. Frolicking back and forth across the big stage in high heels and an adorable short skirt with flamenco ruffle, Kelsea squeezed fan favorites like “Peter Pan,” “Legends” and “Miss Me More” into her set, but also managed to get her pals and collaborators, Chainsmokers, out for a special performance.
Is there a unified campaign to make Brothers Osborne global country music superstars? There could be after their too short set of fan favorites like “Stay A Little Longer” and “It Ain’t My Fault,” that showcased John’s wicked guitar playing, and TJ’s rumbling baritone, and their newest single, “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You),” which reveals their tender side. But this delightful duo wasn’t content to have all of the glory on their own. They brought Brooks & Dunn to the stage for a cover of “Hard Workin’ Man” from Kix and Ronnie’s Reboot project, then brought out recent CMT Music Video Awards winner, Ashley McBryde, to add her sweet soprano to the B&D smash, “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone.”
Eighteen years of history meant that Rascal Flatts’ entire set would be filled with hits and it certainly was. The trio has tapped into the entertainment fountain of youth and inspire of a deluge from the heavens, the crowd sized failed to diminish. Who would dare leave, though, when one hit like led to another and songs like “Summer Nights,” “Life Is a Highway,” and “Yours If You Want It” were practically begging to be sung along with. They didn’t have to beg hard, or even at all, really. The fans were tickled to oblige.
The rain didn’t let up and neither did the talent, all the way through Florida Georgia Line’s hit- filled set. Ripping off one smash after another from their early smashes like, “Cruise” and This Is How We Roll,” all the way to their most current hit, “Talk You Out Of It,” enthusiasm was unwavering as every song elicited a “Oh, this is my favorite,” from their fans. But the pair of friends who are as enthusiastic about cultivating the next generation as they are about their own success also welcomed newcomers Hardy and Morgan Wallen to their set where the fellas got to sing their own sizzling singles, “Y’all Boys” and “Up Down” respectively.
From the rainfall, one might think that night one of CMA Music Festival was a wash, but far from it. It was wet, wild, and wonderful.