Once an avid concert-goer, I have slowed down attending shows over the last few years. However, this past weekend I returned to the live music scene in a big way. To celebrate our anniversary, Sidney and I attended the Carolina Country Music Festival. A mammoth four day fest that attracts some of country music’s biggest superstars to Myrtle Beach, the CCMF is a big deal.
The CCMF was actually a first for me. While I have attended arena shows, outdoor shows, and even an awards show before, I had never went to a music festival. I was excited to sit outside, enjoy the vendors, and meet our 20,000 “neighbors”…
….I just wasn’t ready to do it for four days.
Sidney and I attended the middle two days of the CCMF on Friday and Saturday. While we knew it would be nice to see acts that performed on Thursday and Sunday such as Jason Aldean, Montgomery Gentry, Chris Young, Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, and others, the two days we did go provided us with more than enough fun.
On Friday we arrived at 5: 30 p.m. and stayed until midnight. We saw Parmalee, Kip Moore, Billy Currington, and Darius Rucker. On Saturday we showed up at 4 p.m. and watched LANco, Chris Lane, Granger Smith, Lee Brice, and Kenny Chesney. It was midnight when we left on Saturday as well. So, for those keeping count, we saw nine different acts perform over the course of 17 hours. Talk about a lot of music!
Before I address who we liked best, I did want to mention the fest itself. Although the CCMF is only in its third year, I must say that the organizers seem to have it down to a science. Getting inside the event area was quick and easy. The wristband system is extremely convenient. There was no shortage of food options. Beer stations were all over the place. Different sections at the fest (such as general admission, VIP, Super VIP) were clearly distinguishable and a heavy security presence was on hand to make sure everyone stayed where they were supposed to. Large screens were set up everywhere so those who were not close to the stage could still follow the action. Except for a couple instances, I never really saw much disorganization.
I didn’t understand the magnitude of the event until I walked through the gates the first time on Friday evening. The festival was absolutely packed! However, for the most part, people were really cool. Sidney and I had the opportunity to meet new friends while also enjoying people-watching at its finest. Although we felt really young and really overdressed at times, we had a great time being part of the crowd.
When it came to Friday night, my favorite performer was Billy Currington. He brought a lot of energy to the stage and it was fun to sing aloud to his songs (especially “People Are Crazy”). Darius Rucker was good but I had seen him before, and like I said then, he is pretty much no frills when it comes to his shows. Currington played his set during the period when it went from day to night so to jam out as the sun went down was pretty scenic/fun.
I enjoyed the music on Saturday better. Because Sidney and I arrived a little earlier this day, we moved much closer up in our section. We brought a blanket with us that allowed us to sit and relax during the early acts. Sidney loved Chris Lane’s act. Personally, I was pleasantly surprised by Lee Brice’s set. I saw him when he performed at Coastal Carolina last fall and I didn’t think the show was anything special. However, up on the CCMF stage with the ocean behind him, Brice put on an incredible show. The crowd was really into it and he touched the emotions of most of us with both his sad songs and his party songs. Although proposals at concerts are sometimes cheesy, the couple he had come up on stage made everyone go “awwwwwwwwwwwww” when the dude popped the question and the girl responded with “I absolutely will marry you.”
But it wasn’t even a question of who the best performer was during the two days we were there. Kenny Chesney was by far and away the greatest entertainer that took the stage. He opened by performing “Beer In Mexico.” The moment he sang the song’s opening lyrics, starin’ out into the wild blue yonder, I looked at Sidney and said WOW.
Chensey’s voice was so distinctive, so clear, so effortless. After hearing the eight previous acts, he just stood out so much. We loved his set. He stuck with his more upbeat hits (so no, he didn’t perform “Don’t Blink”) and just entertained us. His band was awesome and he tried as hard as he could to convey that he was having a good time. He told funny and meaningful stories in between playing hit after hit. After waiting so long to finally see him, I can unequivocally say that Kenny Chesney did not disappoint.
Attending the Carolina Country Music Fest was a great way to spend our anniversary weekend. If we do it again, we might opt for a VIP package and just go one night. One thing plainly obvious to Sidney and I over the course of the two nights was that we can’t hang with the young bucks like we used to. However, we did our best and had a very memorable time. Don’t Blink.