Despite my role as Time Out's music editor (and my love for classic country greats like Porter, Dolly, Willie and Waylon) I don't know much about modern country music. So when the opportunity arose to attend Stagecoach this weekend—the Coachella of country and a down-home southern style shit show, from what I'd heard—I jumped at the chance. I covered Coachella just two weeks ago in the same location, and was curious to see how different this would be (I assumed very, and I was right). I learned a lot about the genre (Miranda Lambert actually is amazing) and myself (why don't I own cowboy boots?), as well as the fest in general. Here are my top ten takeaways.
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1. Short shorts are not just for ladies. I have never seen more grown men in more tiny, tiny jorts. I'm not complaining (for the most part).
2. You can have beer (and wine, and liquor) anywhere, any time here. This is not true at Coachella, or FYF, despite the fact that all three festivals are all-ages. It is lovely to enjoy a Bud at your leisure while standing in the front row during a set, or simply without being corralled into a little beer pen.
3. Also unlike Coachella, the vast, vast majority of folks at Stagecoach are here just for the headliners. The crowds for the daytime shows are pretty small and low key (meaning amazing views and room to (line) dance at every early set), but as soon as Tim McGraw or Miranda Lambert take the stage, shit gets nuts.
4. Speaking of line dancing: it is taken very seriously, and I am very impressed. Whoever says white people can't dance should spend some time at the Stagecoach Honky Tonk. Though really, it happens everywhere—impromptu line dances start during practically every set, which is perhaps the most inclusive, fun and friendly way to enjoy live music in the company of others.
5. The crowd here may be smaller than at other festivals, but no one is asking who any of the bands are (or insisting on their excitement to see a band that doesn't exist). The folks who spend full days here are real, die-hard fans.
6. Southern boys (and their SoCal counterparts) are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They'll part crowds for you, tip their hats with a smile, even their cat calls are sweet and gentlemanly... until they have one too many beers and turn into crude, rude, bullish jerks looking for a brawl. It's actually rather fascinating.
7. There can never be too much 'Merica on your bod. People are clad in our nation's flag from head to toe here, surpassing anything I've seen at other music festivals, or even on the Fourth of July. I felt like a goddamn terrorist the day I didn't wear anything red, white or blue.
8. In true American tradition, country fans love both meat and competition. There were not one but two cooking contests happening this weekend; the Kinders BBQ Sauce barbeque competition and the Budweiser burger competition. If the competitions themselves were competing we'd have to crown Budweiser as the winner—they were passing out their burger bites for free, while each taste of BBQ was $3.
9. Overalls aren't back, because I'm pretty sure with this crowd they never left. Some girls were wearing them, but overwhelmingly I saw them on guys—them and nothing else. I don't even think they wear underwear under there. Variations on this trend include canvas Carhartt, forest camo and of course, the overall jort.
10. Music festivals aren't just for young'uns. I'm not surprised that this lineup caters to an older crowd, but I am surprised that so many of them are actually here, in the 90-degree weather and 16mph winds, surrounded by drunk, scantily-clad festival-goers acting like, well, festival-goers. The seniors here are strong in number, singing and dancing (and sometimes napping), and it's great.