By: Bailey Johnk
Photo © 2019 by: Frank Griseta
When you’re a big music lover like I am, nothing beats a festival. Getting to see a big group of your favorite artists back to back in one day or one weekend? That is the dream. An incredible rush of excitement that never ends. Mix that with incredible food, opportunities to shop or buy merchandise, a huge grounds to explore and it’s a recipe for all day fun. All of this was the same at LakeShake this past weekend. Ringing in its fifth year, the three day event was headlined by a group country music stars and those rising/up and coming in the industry. With 31 artists and bands hitting the stage all day every day, LakeShake was jam packed with talent and newsworthy performances.
On Friday, the festival made waves in the country music world by providing an all female line up. On the Nashville stage, artists Kassi Ashton and Rita Wilson performed. Ashton got the crowd pumped with some of her singles like ‘California, Missouri’ and ‘Violins’. She also premiered a new song called ‘Pool Party’ that has yet to be released, but her slick dance moves onstage showed her true excitement to release it to the world. Rita Wilson, who most may know for her production work in Hollywood, has been in the country music game for 6 years now and played a fantastic set. All while she dealt with technical difficulties with her in-ear monitors, she absolutely killed the vocals on songs like ‘Halfway to Home’, ‘Big City Small Town Girl’, and ‘Song for Everyone’. She also did her first ever live performance of her song, ‘Demolition Man’, off her 2019 album, ‘Halfway to Home’. What made her performance even better was her familial anecdotes in between songs. She never failed to get a laugh out of the crowd. Much like Wilson, when Lauren Alaina hit the main stage, she shared stories about her parents but without any filter. She spoke of her father’s struggle with alcoholism, her parents divorce, and her many years away from home openly, all the while singing songs like ‘History’, ‘Georgia Peaches’, ‘Doin’ Fine’, ‘Ladies of the 90s’, ‘Three’, ‘What Ifs’, and ‘Road Less Travelled’. This vulnerability onstage made her so much more relatable; any audience member felt like they were friends with her as she sang. Maren Morris also had one of the stand out performances of the night singing hits like ‘Girl’, ’80s Mercedes’, ‘I Could Use a Love Song’, ‘Once’, ‘Rich’, ‘My Church’ and her collaboration with Zedd, ‘The Middle’. She strutted around stage confidently in a glittering outfit and even brought her husband and fellow country singer, Ryan Hurd, out on stage to duet her song ‘All My Favorite People’ with her. She held the audience in the palm of her hand. To wrap the night up, Miranda Lambert stunned the crowd singing hits ‘Kerosene’, ‘Heart Like Mine’, ‘Vice’, ‘Over You’, ‘The House That Built Me’, ‘Gunpowder & Lead’, ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’, and ‘White Liar’. To end her set, she brought out all the main stage women one more time to sing a beautiful cover of ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ in perfect harmony. It gave me chills to see that much talent all standing on one stage.
On Saturday, it was Aussie mania. Country artists from Down Under like Morgan Evans, Seaforth, and Keith Urban hit the stage and rocked the house. Morgan Evans performed hits like ‘American’. ‘Dance With Me’, ‘Day Drunk’, and ‘Kiss Somebody’. He talked about his marriage to fellow country music artist, Kelsea Ballerini, and showed off his “band” a.k.a his impressive one man loop pedal skills. Seaforth, a young and upcoming country duo, hit the small stage with songs off their EP like, ‘Love That’ and ‘Talk to Me’. Though Brett Young’s simultaneous set on the main stage was a tough competitor for them, as soon as the two began playing their first song, younger attendees began to flood into the tent. Their music was magnetic. On the other side of the festival, Brett was playing songs like ‘Mercy’, ‘Like I Loved You’, ‘Here Tonight’, and his big hit, ‘In Case You Didn’t Know’, which had an audience member getting down on one knee to propose (check out LakeShake’s official twitter for a sweet video of it). Midland, a three man band from Texas, had the crowd rowdy and head banging with their muddy country rock sound. They performed songs like ‘Check Cashin’ Country’, ‘Burn Out’, ‘Gator Boy’, ‘Fourteen Gears’, ‘Mr. Lonely’, ‘Playboys’, ‘Make A Little’, and ‘Drinkin’ Problem’. A good portion of their set was dedicated to country twists on classic rock songs as well. Decked out in cowboy hats, flashy colorful clothes, and thick mustaches, they felt very down home, connected to their Southern roots. The night was brought to a climax by superstar, Keith Urban, as he sang hits like ‘Somebody Like You’, ‘You Look Good In My Shirt’, ‘Blue Ain’t Your Color’, ‘The Fighter’, and ‘Wasted Time’. One of the most exciting moments of his set was when he gave away his guitar to a random audience member. Talk about the most exclusive merch a person can leave a concert with!
Sunday began with performances from Ryan Hurd, Mitchell Tenpenny and Hardy with songs like, ‘To a T’, ‘Alcohol You Later’, ‘Drunk Me’, ‘B*tches’, and ‘God’s Country’. All three shared star studded stage charisma that had the audiences dancing in their cowboy boots. But the night really took a turn for the memorable when artists Granger Smith and Luke Bryan took the stage. Many LakeShake attendees were unsure if Granger would show up to the festival at all, considering it had only been 17 days since him and his wife announced the accidental death of their youngest son, River. But his set went on as scheduled and through the grief, he managed to put on a spectacular performance, singing songs like ‘If The Boot Fits’, ‘The Country Boy Song’, ‘You’re In It’, ‘Backroad Song’, and ‘Happens Like That’. The highlight of his set was his performance of ‘Heaven Bound Balloons’, a song all about mourning a loved one. There was not a dry eye in the audience as he sang the heartfelt melody, Granger almost crying himself. The very last performance of the festival came from Luke Bryan. His setlist was full of his most popular singles like, ‘Drink a Beer’, ‘I Don’t Want This Night To End’, ‘Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye’, ‘Play It Again’, ‘That’s My Kind of Night’, and ‘Country Girl’. The two highlights of his performance? When he brought out Cole Swindell to sing ‘Roller Coaster’ and the weather. Storms were predicted for the whole weekend but they didn’t make an appearance until Luke’s set. But nothing beats singing along to your favorite music while getting soaked in the rain. It was utterly magical.
LakeShake is officially over and local fans must wait another year until next summer to party on Lake Michigan with their favorite country stars. Though a year seems so far away, there is one thing we have to look forward to: LakeShake keeps on getting better every year. 2019 was proof of that. I’m excited to see what 2020 has in store.
Country Lakeshake Festival: