Just three weeks after the abrupt and tragic close to the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Big & Rich headlined a performance at Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula, California, that was both festive and reverent.
Many audience members attended the show wearing Route 91 Harvest Festival memorial shirts. Those who had been in attendance at the three-day event were identified with orange ribbons. Bracelets with the #CountryStrong hashtag were passed out, and there were raffles and auctions to raise money for the victims. Pony Boys U.S.A. sold light-up horse necklaces as a fundraiser for the victims as well.
Opening the sold-out show was a duo from Austin, Texas: Cody Cooper and George Birge, better known as Waterloo Revival. Their playful, acoustic set included their current single, “What Guy Wouldn’t,” and a song that became the “official song of college football” last season, “Backwood Bump,” complete with a demonstration of the choreography from the pair.
DJ Sinister played his signature mixes, further energizing the crowd as a prelude to Big & Rich, who brought the party, but were also ever mindful that for many Route 91 survivors, this was their first concert since coming home, and an important step in the healing process.
Big Kenny and John Rich gave thanks and praise for the freedom afforded to those who live in the United States of America. The duo thanked first responders, and read the names and stories of active duty military and veterans in the crowd. They told the story of Niles Harris, who inspired “8th of November.” And, just as they had done the night they played the Route 91 Harvest Festival, they asked the audience to hold their cell phone flashlights while they sang, “God Bless America.”
Their set also included their current single, “California,” a brand new song, “Freedom Road,” and a couple of covers honoring the late Tom Petty.
Cowboy Troy came out for the finale of the show to sing “I Play Chicken with the Train,” then stayed on stage to sing a medley with Big & Rich that included DNCE’s “Cake by the Ocean,” Chumbawumba’s “Tub Thumpin,'” Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” and Don McLean’s “American Pie,” before the evening culminated with “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy,” which included snippets of the theme from “Spider-Man” (complete with an appearance from the superhero), Luke Bryan‘s “Country Girl (Shake It for Me),” Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” Red Hot Chili Pepper’s “Give It Away,” Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Get Down Tonight,” House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” and DMX’s “Party Up.”
Although we may never heal completely from the tragedy of the Route 91 Harvest Festival, Big & Rich’s performance was definitely a night to remember.
Big & Rich:
- Comin’ to Your City
- Look at You
- Holy Water
- Lovin’ Lately
- Lost in the Moment
- Freedom Road
- 8th of November
- God Bless America
- Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty cover)
- Mary Jane’s Last Dance (Tom Petty cover)
- I Play Chicken With the Train (Cowboy Troy)
- Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)
- Hit the Road
- Summer Thing
- I Could Used to This
- Purple Rain (Prince cover)
- Meet Up in the Middle
- Bad for You
- Backwoods Bump
- What Guy Wouldn’t