“Life springs eternal on a gaudy neon street.”
It’s that time of year again where the sun’s a little warmer, the beer’s a little colder and the music’s a lot louder. That’s right – it’s concert season.
Being pushed against the barriers and railings; getting notifications telling me I’ve run out of storage space (yet again) on my iPhone; and watching the collection of ticket stubs, passes and guitar picks amounting on my dresser brings my heart so much joy that I can hardly keep up documenting it all on this site.
Hard to believe that it’s already been two weeks since we got back from Vegas. Back in the fall, I got hooked on the idea of ACM’s Party For A Cause – Vegas + country music, seems like a no brainer – and booked a room without really having any other plans. As you may or may not know by now, I am solo concert-going enthusiast…but there was no way I was going to Vegas alone. Finally after pleading my case on why this would be the best weekend ever, I rounded up my girl gang and we were on our way.
Four and half hours later, we arrived on The Strip and made our way to the MGM. We had just missed Thomas Rhett, but was told we could meet Tara Thompson. I’ve been jammin’ to her single “Someone To Take Your Place” for a few months now and was surprised that such a feisty tune came out of someone so small (fun-sized girl power!). Then, Julie with her eagle eye spotted Chase heading out the door so we walked and snapped a quick pic. Next stop: SLS Festival Grounds.
Unlike other festivals, the pit area for ACM Party For A Cause general admission, which meant we could get as close up as we like. While making our way towards the festival stage, we stopped to chat with Kelleigh Bannen, whom I adore. Her blog, This Nashville Life, is one of the few that I read on a regular basis soI was excited to finally meet the gal behind the site. Look how cute we are!
Friday night’s main stage lineup was all girl power. ACM’s Party For A Cause is the first festival to have a woman-led lineup night and these ladies killed it.
Kelsea Ballerini had everyone, myself included, tearing up when she accepted her ACM for for New Female Vocalist. And Martina of course brought out the nostalgia for all of us 90s country music lovers.
CARRIE UNDERWOOD. My God, I was BLOWN AWAY. She’s come so far since her chicken-clucking American Idol days. Remember when the judges told her she lacked stage presence? I assure you, she sure as hell doesn’t anymore. We were up close when she brought out Miranda for “Somethin’ Bad”, when she rocked the hell out of the harmonica (who knew?) during “Choctaw County Affair” and when she closed out with Lauren Alaina, Kellie Pickler, Kelleigh Bannen and Jana Kramer.
Alcohol + sleep deprivation made day two a bit of a struggle. As luck with have it, running late came with perks…like meeting Cassadee Pope. And even better luck, her boyfriend Rian Dawson was there too. Non-All Time Low fans (aka everyone there) had no idea who he was so we just looked like crazies takings pics with Cassadee’s boyfriend, no big deal. There was also a pair of very convincing Kenny Chesney and Jason Aldean impersonators in the hotel lobby, whom we didn’t get to grab pics with.
Long story short, some people in the group didn’t quite make it through the night. Subsequently, we couldn’t make it to the pit for most of the acts as taking care of them came with the territory of being a good friend. But we did manage to get semi-close to the stage during Dierk’s set. Like Carrie, Dierks didn’t disappoint with his guest appearances. He and Maren Morris performed their new duet “I’ll Be The Moon”, which is so so so good. He also brought out Charles Kelley (of Lady A) and Eric Paslay to perform their collab of Kelley’s new single “The Driver”.
Day two might’ve been hard but day three was ROUGH. After day two, we spent the night at the MGM people watching. Eric Paslay was playing blackjack; Chris Janson was adorable with his wife per usual; a drunken Jake Owen called it an early night; and Chase Bryant sat next to us at the bar. All in all, a good time. But by the time we made it out for Old Dominion’s set the next day, staying up until 5:30 in the morning didn’t feel like such a great idea anymore.
After catching Brett Eldredge and Chase in the pit, we had had enough. It didn’t help that it was ten degrees hotter than the first day, with temperatures rapidly rising.
In a state of drowsiness, we chilled in the shade away from the pit to enjoy the rest of the show. I wish I snapped more photos but to be honest, it was battle just to stay awake.