The iHeartRadio Country Festival

Lights flashing, fans screaming, and music blaring; the iHeartRadio Country Festival 2014 was in full swing. It was held at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin. Obviously, Austin was a perfect place to have one of the best country lineups to date. Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, Carrie Underwood, Jake Owen, and Dan + Shay all blew the roof off. My favorite performance was Eric Church. He played a lot of the songs on his newest album, but didn’t forget to play “Springsteen” and “Drink in My Hand.” Without a doubt, the artist that had the biggest reaction from the audience was Luke Bryan. Maybe it was because he performed last, or maybe it was because all the ladies go crazy for him.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was the official charity partner of the event, and this altered my impression of country music. We all know the stereotypes: beer chugging, short shorts, and cut off t-shirts. This concert was different. It shifted the spotlight to an important cause, and the crowd loved it. I have never heard of a rap or hip-hop concert that had a charity sponsorship.

The iHeartRadio Country Festival was the second country festival that I’ve been exposed to. Back home in Minnesota, WE Fest is the festival of choice for country fans. The alcohol-induced crowd camps out for three nights and every day seems mashed together. It holds a similar big name lineup, but also has some small label bands perform as well. In comparison to concerts that differ in genre, country music concerts have always been the most fun! Everyone sings every song. People dance, make friends with strangers, and are all there to support the country music industry.

Looking back, the iHeartRadio Country Festival was the best concert I’ve ever been to. The fact that it was in what we most call “The Live Music Capital of the World” made the concert seem that much more relevant in country music terms. After learning about Austin’s role in Willie Nelson’s career, I now realize how important Austin was to the progression of country music. Now all I can think about is getting tickets for the next festival. Who is going to be in the lineup? Who do you want to see the most? Have you been to a big country music Festival? I’m just hoping that Eric Church comes back for another time around.


Filed under Austin, Live Music, New Country

7 Responses to The iHeartRadio Country Festival

  1. Dustin Hixenbaugh

    I didn’t know about the iHeartRadio show until I was driving by the Erwin center and saw it advertised on the marquee. By then, it was too late to get tickets. So I guess I should start by saying that I am insanely jealous that you had the chance to go. Do you feel like the word “festival” is an accurate description, though? The festivals I have been to have taken place outside and over the course of several days. Although this one had a variety of performers, my impression is that it didn’t last any longer than a typical concert would. And it was inside. Do you think there is something special about country music that would lead big names like Luke Bryan and Eric Church to do an event like this one for charity?

  2. Minsu Kim

    First off, I am so jealous that you got to go to this concert! I have never been to a country music concert and this was the chance to see “the best of the best” country singers perform, but I failed to get the ticket on time. I think this was especially cool because of the charity factor as well. So, what was it about Eric Church’s performance that made it your favorite of the night? Is it because he was your favorite singer or because he was just a good performer, on that night particularly? And if you have any, was there any “least favorite” performance of the night and why?

  3. Jessica Jakobeit

    I’m pretty sure anyone who did not get to go to the concert is jealous that you were able to go. I agree that is very special that the concert had a charity partner. I think that the fact that there were so many famous country artists there for the concert shows a lot of support they have as well. Do you think that the next concert will be just as amazing? I feel that this first one will always be the best because it was the original “country” iHeartRadio music festival. I mean I am definitely going to try and go to the next one though if they decide to have one.

  4. Ramie Payne

    I want to the IHeartRadio Country Festival too and I agree, it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been too. I had awful seats on the top row BEHIND the stage and I still had an awesome time — that’s how amazing the performers were. One thing I liked about the concert was how each performer was on for maybe 30 minutes and played their 5 best or most popular songs. There was never a dull moment because every song played was a favorite song of mine. I did love Eric Church, but he wasn’t my favorite performer. Lady Antebellum was. They song exactly the same live as they do on the radio, which is something I love. It is always way more impressive when a singer can actually sing and doesn’t only sound good when their voice is auto-tuned. I also kept finding myself saying “oh, this is my favorite song” at the start of each song. I just couldn’t decide which one I loved the most. What made Eric Church your favorite performer?

  5. Amy Burt

    I enjoyed reading your blog post, Gerrit! I actually got the opportunity to work at the iHeartRadio Country Music Festival last year at a concession stand so I was able to hear most of the songs perfectly from outside the Frank Erwin Center. It was nice hearing your perspective of what it was like actually seeing the performance since I could only hear it. I was a little bummed that I wasn’t able to attend the concert even though I was right outside of the stadium, but reading your post and seeing your pictures made it a little better because now I can visualize what it must have been like.

  6. Holly Kern

    Reading your article I’m so jealous I didn’t hear about this and buy tickets, I’ll have to keep my ears and eyes peeled for when they do it again! I watched something similar to this a couple months ago. I don’t remember the exact title but on ABC,NBC (one of those huge channels) they had this huge live concert with tons of big name singers/groups promoting you to call in and donate to the MDA organization. MDA is the Muscular Dystrophy Association and this is a cause that hits real close to home for me seeing as I have loved one who recently was diagnosed with ALS. I think it is truly amazing when artists come together to sing and promote charities and organizations like this. Not to mention, music is something that sick people love to turn to and lean on when they’re going through tough times, so it brightens the hearts and sometimes heals its listeners. Thank you for sharing your experience at the iHeartRadio Country Festival.

  7. Lejla Pracic

    I am really upset I missed out on this. The lineup was so amazing. I love Carrie Underwood and I would have loved to see her live. Don’t even get me started on Luke Bryn. I just am absolutely in love with him. I love his music and I love him just that much more. Country music is just a really special thing in this world. I love that this concert was in relation to the St. Jude Children Research Hospital. It warms my heart to see all these artists be a part of something great and giving back to what matters. I am most definitely going to the iHeartRadio Country Festival. I am not missing out on a great concert again.

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