BROOKLYN – For tens of thousands of people at the Faster Horses Festival, this was an old-fashioned type of stimulus and a new type of pandemic relief.
Michigan’s first major music festival since 2019 kicked off on Friday, instantly accelerating the concert scene from 0 to 40,000 as many country fans descended on the grounds of Michigan International Speedway for the festival’s eighth installment.
It was the largest gathering in the state since the start of COVID-19 more than 16 months ago.
With headliner Luke Combs on tap to close the night out, party instincts quickly picked up for the camping crowds. Three words from artist Carly Pearce on the main stage elicited one of the loudest early roars of the day and a sea of hanging Bud Light cans: “Who’s drinking already ?!
The Irish Hills area was not hit by rain like the Detroit subway did, but the drizzle was stable enough that the most practical field boots on Friday could have been mud waders. (Evening performer Chris Lane learned the hard way when he slipped on stage at the start of his set.)
Still, gloomy skies and constant rain weren’t going to disrupt this celebration – not after a two-year wait and a pandemic of pent-up party energy.
The return of live music – and the chance to reunite again en masse – was a chairman theme on Friday.
“It’s amazing,” said Jimmy Gould, 24, of Port Huron. “Words can’t describe it. It feels normal again, as if we picked up where we left off. “
Faster Horses was finally a chance to finally see the stars “in 3D,” as Live Nation’s Brian O’Connell said in a video segment that aired on stage. “I’m sick of the Zoom! Said Pearce.
Like many other artists on Friday, Pearce’s’ 90s-inspired country ensemble included music prepared during his forties – in his case, the recent single “Should’ve Known Better.” She concluded with the ballad that she says got her through a difficult year, her award-winning Lee Brice duet “I Hope You’re Happy Now”.
On Friday, as always, Faster Horses drew a crowd of generations, but it was truly a flurry of youth and a modern country audience. It was a place where sorority jackets were out of place among the Stetsons, where fans sang the songs of Post Malone and Papa Roach with as much enthusiasm between sets as they did for the classics of Nashville.
Jon Pardi was scheduled to perform ahead of the Combs final on Friday. Faster Horses will run throughout the weekend with headlining Thomas Rhett (Saturday) and Jason Aldean (Sunday).
Contact Detroit Free Press Music Editor Brian McCollum: 313-223-4450 or email@example.com.