The first ever iHeartRadio Country Festival took place this weekend in Austin, Texas, in front of nearly 17,000 people. The show was streamed on Country Music Television. The lineup consisted of country superstars Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, Carrie Underwood, Jake Owen and Dan + Shay.
Eric Church was the first to take the stage and lit the arena up, literally. The pyrotechnics had the whole place sweating. He opened with his single, “The Outsiders,” and played multiple other hits like Top 10 single, “Give Me Back My Hometown.” The fire and high energy he emitted during his performance got the fans riled up for the rest of the night.
Jake Owen followed Eric Church’s performance and played his hit songs, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” and “Anywhere With You.” During his performance, he high fived a young audience member from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Owen also stopped to take a few selfies with fans. He’s clearly in touch with his audience and knows how to make people excited. After the crowed was in full swing over Owen’s country tunes, he switched things up a bit and busted out “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” rap. The audience sand along and swung their hips to his cover.
Lucy Hale from the hit TV show Pretty Little Liars introduced the next act, Dan + Shay. Being a fairly new duo, Dan + Shay stuck to original hits rather than playing songs off their new album, which is being released on Tuesday, April 1st. They performed “What You Do To Me” and their radio hit “19 You + Me.” Before leaving the stage, they kept the audience involved by asking the whole arena to sing along with them to “Show You Off.” The crowd must have left an impression, because after the show told iHeartRadio that it was a “festival and a half.”
Lady Antebellum was next in the line-up. The fans went crazy when they took the stage. Lights lit up like stars over the stage and the audience. They played all their top hits: “Compass,” “Downtown,” “I Run to You” and “We Owned the Night.” With so many talented acts and so little time, performers did not have time to play all fan favorites, but Lady Antebellum made sure to include their older single, “Need You Now.”
Florida Georgia Line was introduced as one of the bands that had the most played playlist on the iHeartRadio app last year. They have toured almost non-stop since and have gained a huge fan base in a seemingly short period of time. Fans enjoyed all their radio hits: “It’z Just What We Do,” “Get Your Shine On,” “Round Here,” “Stay” and “This Is How We Roll.” The last song performed was “Cruise,” which has been a wild success for the band since its debut. The hit gained even more recognition when Nelly remixed the single. Although Nelly wasn’t there to rap, it didn’t stop Florida Georgia Line from performing his part in the song. Who said country boys can’t rap?
Hunter Hayes burst out of the gates with his newest single “Wildcard,” followed by his emotional hit “Wanted.” He displayed an incredible array of his many talents by playing guitar and piano. He shared a personal moment when he gave a speech expressing his gratitude for his fans, giving them credit for making his dream of joining the “Country Music Family” come true. He dedicated his debut single “Invisible,” off of his upcoming album, to any of his fans who had ever felt invisible. Before he started he told the crowd, “Be yourself. Never be afraid of being yourself.” The song had fans tweeting on the big screen in the arena that the song had them crying. It was a beautiful and emotional moment. He lifted everyone’s spirits when he closed with his hit single “I Want Crazy.”
Country music queen Carrie Underwood followed Hayes’ performance and played her classics, “Jesus Take The Wheel” and “Before He Cheats.” Fireworks and smoke bursts highlighted the stage as fans sang at the top of their lungs. She left the crowd by performing her newest hit, “Blown Away.” There were wind simulators around the stage that had Underwood’s hair flowing, as well as tornadoes up on the big screens, making the “blown away” experience something for fans to remember.
The minute Jason Aldean took the stage, fans went wild. He opened with “Take A Little Ride” and followed with “Tattoos On This Town” and “Dirt Road Anthem.” When he started playing “The Only Way I Know,” originally done with Eric Church and Luke Bryan, he had everyone thinking Church and Bryan would come out to perform with him, but fans were surprised when he introduced the boys from Florida Georgia Line to fill in for them. Aldean closed with “My Kind Of Party,” and the place turned into a party.
Luke Bryan closed the night with a wild performance. He opened with the appropriately titled “That’s My Kind of Night.” During “Crash My Party,” Bryan brought up the Make-A-Wish fan and held her in one arm while he walked around the stage. Before ending the magical moment for the little girl, he kissed her on the cheek and left all fans in awe. Later in the set he performed his poignant single “Drink A Beer,” and let nearly 17,000 fans sing the last chorus. It was a beautiful moment. Before ending the song, he dedicated the performance to anyone who had lost a loved one. It’s safe to say the crowd was very emotional. He lifted the mood up again by playing “I Don’t Want This Night To End,” which was followed by “Country Girl (Shake It For Me).” Luke Bryan had the whole crowd shaking their hips along with him. He interrupted the song with covers of Tao Cruz’s “Dynamite” and Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty to Me.” He then got back into original songs and took pictures with crowd members before leaving the stage. The night is sure to go down in country music history, and iHeartRadio will undoubtedly continue this new tradition.