Blake Shelton’s CMA Fest crowd at Nissan Stadium was just coming down from a rowdy “Gonna” when he mentioned what he loved most about the annual event.
“I’ve been coming since 1994,” he said. “And every year I see people literally of all ages from all over the world. Don’t you love country music? I’m not kidding about that. That is so cool.”
Shelton’s right. Throughout night two (June 9) of the 2017 event, accents representing several different countries from outside America could be heard singing along to everyone performing onstage at Nissan Stadium. The night two performers were Trace Adkins, Rascal Flatts, Sam Hunt, Dustin Lynch, Brett Young, Kelsea Ballerini, Eric Church and Shelton.
Their screams were deafening when Shelton brought out surprise guest Adkins for “Hillbilly Bone,” and they sang the “hey, heys” and the “all rights” on cue during “Gonna.”
But they reached their maximum volume levels during Church. His performance included “Jack Daniels,” “Smoke a Little Smoke,” “Round Here Buzz” and “Chattanooga Lucy.” He closed his set by letting the packed audience of approximately 50,000 fans sing the last lines of “Give Me Back My Hometown.”
Earlier that evening, Ballerini entertained with live selections from The First Time including her back-to-back hits, “Love Me Like You Mean It,” “Dibs,” “Yeah Boy” and “Peter Pan.” The audience seemed to already know all the words to “Legends” and “I Hate Love Songs” — two new tracks from a forthcoming sophomore album.
A country crowd’s reaction to Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road” is immediate and vehement in any live setting. And it was no different when his band launched into the runaway hit’s first two notes. Hunt’s performance was mostly made up of songs from his Grammy-nominated album Montevallo, including “Ex to See,” “House Party” and “Breakup in a Small Town.”
A full moon was starting the glow above the horizon when Adkins and Rascal Flatts kicked off the night with live selections of their biggest hits. Between sets, Lynch and Young each appeared onstage to sing “Small Town Boy” and “In Case You Didn’t Know,” respectively.
Earlier that afternoon across the Cumberland River, Shelton staged an 80-minute surprise pop-up concert at the Wildhorse Saloon to celebrate the Nashville arrival of his Smithworks Vodka. The event was standing room only and packed with fans craning their necks to catch a glimpse of The Voice star, who is considered one of the most recognizable names of today’s country music.
The CMA Fest nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium continue tonight (June 10) with performances by John Anderson, Maren Morris, Chris Young, Old Dominion, Lady Antebellum, Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line.
Here are scenes from Friday night (June 9):
Eric Church and Joanna Cotton
Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins