Music

Eric Church Reigns Over CMA Fest (Night 2 Recap)

Lorie Liebig

There was plenty of great music to enjoy during the second day of CMA Music Festival in downtown Nashville. As the streets fill up with weekend revelers, new and old country artists take the stage for fans during the four-day annual event.

After a strong kickoff, the broadening lines of the genre came to a crossroads during the second day. New artists showed off their personalities while established artists showed what it takes to cement yourself as a true country superstar.

Steve Moakler

Photo: Lorie Liebig

Although there were dozens of artists performing during the afternoon, rising artist Steve Moakler’s set was one of the most impressive. His penned tune (made famous by Dierks Bentley), “Riser,” and the anthemic single “Suitcase” quickly drew hundreds to the small Park Stage.

Trace Adkins

Photo: Lorie Liebig

To kick things off, Trace Adkins took the stage for an understated but overall solid set. He brought out his party hits like “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” to get the crowd moving.

Rascal Flatts

Photo: Lorie Liebig

A CMA Fest veteran, Rascal Flatts sounded as good as ever, but didn’t quite find their footing on stage. Although energy levels were high, the usually crowd-pleasing track “Life Is A Highway” didn’t pack its normal punch.

Dustin Lynch

Photo: Lorie Liebig

Although he only got to sing one song, Dustin Lynch made the most of his short time in the spotlight. Perched on a platform in the middle of Nissan Stadium, thousands rushed to watch him perform current single “Small Town Boy.”

Kelsea Ballerini

Photo: Lorie Liebig

Marking her third straight year at the festival, Kelsea Ballerini showed that she’s come a long way from her nervous and shaky introduction during the rapid rise of her debut single, “Love Me Like You Mean It.” She opted to travel offstage and down to the fans for most of her set, forging a special connection with the crowd.

Sam Hunt

Photo: Lorie Liebig

Vocal issues brought a rocky start to Sam Hunt’s set. After apologizing to the crowd, he seemed to regain his normal sound and brought plenty of charisma on stage. Although he showcased new, more alt pop-leaning mixes of his tracks from Montevallo, country fans at the stadium still ate up every moment of his performance.

Eric Church

Photo: Lorie Liebig

Although Eric Church wasn’t the headliner, his set was the true gem of the night. Effortless and electric, Church rolled through his hits including “Round Here Buzz” and “Give Me Back My Hometown.”

Blake Shelton

Photo: Lorie Liebig

A solid list of crowd favorites and a dash of humor kept Blake Shelton’s set fresh, even though his latest album is his most pop-leaning to date. He reconnected with his roots by bringing up a few oldies, including his breakthrough cut, “Austin.”

Now Watch: 1o Country Hits Turning 10 This Year

recommended for you

Eric Church Reigns Over CMA Fest (Night 2 Recap)