It was a male-dominated lineup Friday (June 6) at Nashville's LP Field for CMA Music Festival's nightly concert series, but the biggest moment must be handed to the ladies -- Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, to be exact.
Photo Credit: Larry Bussacca/Getty Images
The country fans who packed the football stadium were treated to a lineup of powerhouse performers like Jason Aldean, The Band Perry, Eric Church, Blake Shelton and Travis Tritt.
Toward the end of the night and midway through her set, a corset-clad Lambert, who had already treated hungry fans to her signature sass with songs like "Fastest Girl in Town," "Mama's Broken Heart" and "White Liar," devised a plan to bring the party full-throttle.
As she left the stage for a dramatic pause, Beyoncé's "Run the World (Girls)" began to pipe through the speakers as the large LED screens on both sides of the stage played a video montage projecting images of legends like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. As the beat intensified, so did the imagery as Lambert and Underwood could be seen flashing across the screen, eliciting collective screams throughout the stadium.
Lambert, looking the part of a platinum princess with her sparkling silver top laced up the back paired with her complementary shimmering boots, appeared alongside the breathtakingly beautiful Underwood. Adorning an embellished and golden peekaboo tank, she paired it with tight black shorts flattering her covetous tanned legs. Strutting across the stage, the two performed their feisty new collaboration, "Somethin' Bad," ultimately bringing female star power front and center.
Earlier that night, Lambert performed new music from her latest album Platinum including spirited tunes like "Priscilla" and "Little Red Wagon," before slowing it down with her latest single, "Automatic," a song and video that earlier this week won the singer-songwriter a CMT Music Award for female video of the year.
Ironically, as she sang lines from the nostalgic tune -- "Come on, let's take a picture/The kind you gotta shake" -- many fans could be seen watching the performance through the screens of their phones, eager to capture the moment with a video or photo. One can only surmise these moments instantly made their way to the social ether-world with hashtags like #Automatic or #RanFan4life.
But if one song could emote the ambiance of the entire evening, it was certainly Tritt's "It's a Great Day to Be Alive." Kicking off the second night of the four-day festival, the seasoned singer told the crowd, "This has really become an anthem for me and hopefully for some of you, too," before launching into the feel-good hit from 2000.
Setting the mood for the evening and looking country cool in his black hat and matching collared shirt with turquoise accents, Tritt took the crowd on a decades-long journey of his can't-help-but-sing-along numbers. He steered the crowd through a string of his '90s smashes, including "Put Some Drive in Your Country" and "T-R-O-U-B-L-E," and 2002's "Bonnie and Clyde."
Up next, Church slowly strutted to the mic with a sunglassed swagger as he fired off numbers like "The Outsiders" followed by a passionate performance of "Creepin'," wherein smoke began to fill the stage and add to the evening's theatrics.
As many fans have adopted Nashville as their home this week, Church's "Give Me Back My Hometown" seemed only appropriate as he delivered one of many singalongs of the night. After the song was over, he raised his red Solo cup that had been conveniently attached to his mic stand and launched into his newest single, "Cold One."
Bringing out a surprise guest -- Lzzy Hale, singer-guitarist of the hard rock band Halestorm -- Church warned the screaming fans, "We're both here to rip your heads off!"
Though limbs were spared, some eardrums may not have been so lucky as the two cranked the volume to 11 with "That's Damn Rock & Roll," a song they performed Wednesday at the 2014 CMT Music Awards.
A tough act to follow, The Band Perry carved out a set featuring a fierce foursome of numbers, including love-gone-wrong singles like "Done," "You Lie," "Chainsaw" and their own version of Kesha and Pitbull's pop sensation, "Timber."
The family trio comprised of lead singer Kimberly and brothers Neil and Reid made an impressionable incision on the evening as they neatly balanced their in-your-face songs with sensitive and heartwrenching numbers like "Don't Let Me Be Lonely."
"You bring country music to life. You've brought this band to life," Kimberly told the crowd before the group performed their first single, "If I Die Young."
Slicing through a dramatic performance of "Better Dig Two," the three ended their dramatic set with a synchronized drum solo before leaving the stage.
Par for the course, Aldean brought his own kind of party to the evening, equipped with his arsenal of radio hits like "My Kind of Party" and "Dirt Road Anthem."
"I know you guys came to town this week to party," he professed. "We're gonna do our best to make sure you'll have a good time."
And that he did.
Adding a few thousand willing passengers, he served up "Take a Little Ride" before making the ladies swoon with "She's Country."
Dressed in his signature cowboy hat with a short-sleeved plaid shirt leaving just the right amount of buttons unbuttoned, Aldean paired his snugly-fitted pair of well-worn jeans with a confidence all his own. Strutting across the stage for sexy number "When She Says Baby," he ended his set by bringing fellow Georgia native Tritt back to the stage for a rocking performance of "Homesick," a track from Tritt's 1991 album, It's All About to Change.
Aw, heck. Who better to cap off the evening of music than Shelton, who brought the "red, red, red, red, redneck" party home with his upbeat "Boys 'Round Here."
Sauntering onstage, he began his brief set with his lovey-dovey single "Doin' What She Likes." As fans ogled the charismatic performer, he worked the stage during "Sure Be Cool If You Did" as well as his newest heartwarming single "My Eyes," featuring The Voice contestant Gwen Sebastian. (Earlier in the evening, Voice winner and "The Heart of Dixie" singer Danielle Bradbery opened the evening's festivities by singing the national anthem.)
Testing the crowd's music loyalty at one point, Shelton revisited his early song catalog with "Austin," his 2001 debut single that hit No. 1. Passing with flying colors, the crowd erupted with elation as they sang back every word.
As the concert came to a close shortly after midnight, the party clearly wasn't over as the thousands of fans flocked across the Shelby Street pedestrian bridge. In search of their next cold refreshment, a honky-tonk on Lower Broadway or perhaps their comfy hotel bed, one thing's for certain: These hardcore country music fans will be doing it all again Saturday night -- and the night after that, too.
To paraphrase Tritt's hit, it certainly was a great day (and night) to be alive in Music City.
View photos from Friday night's concert at the CMA Music Festival.