While the country crooner wasn’t a headliner, he took another step toward the top spot with an entertaining, energetic, even sweaty set.
Noting how hot it was, Shelton suggested to the crowd, “Let’s all close our eyes, have a drink and pretend we’re on ‘Some Beach,’ ” kicking into the Jimmy Buffett-like song.
Shelton rolled out the party tunes in his 80-minute set, cracking open bubbly “The More I Drink.”
Even some technical problems, like the sound cutting out in the opener and “All About Tonight,” wouldn’t damper the cheery atmosphere.
The credit goes to Shelton, who comes across as a happy-go-lucky guy, a personality that will undoubtedly land him a headlining spot at a future WE Fest, and maybe even a role on screen bigger than co-host of “The Voice.”
But Thursday was all about the music – and a lot of stories. He talked about how refreshing it was playing to “real, hardcore country music fans,” only to segue into a “Play That Funky Music/Centerfold/My Prerogative” as a way of explaining his odd musical upbringing.
His cover of George Strait’s “All My Exes Live in Texas” was more predictable, especially since he did it, and the introductory story about his new wife, Miranda Lambert.
Fans may have been disappointed that she didn’t join her beau on stage, but apparently she hadn’t arrived for her Saturday set.
Shelton’s voice comes across as easy as his personality, and he switched from the ballad “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” to the stomping “Kiss My Country Ass” with ease.
Thursday’s headliner, Brad Paisley, wasn’t to be overlooked, but was just taking the stage as this story was written. Actually, the singer/guitarist was working his way through the crowd toward the stage, surprising fans with an up close performance of “Mud on the Tires.While the party at WE Fest started for some on Wednesday night, things kicked into gear Thursday afternoon and Jerrod Niemann acted as an official greeter, playing to the beer drinkers in the crowd. It was a crowd Niemann knows well. His set was peppered with songs either about getting his drink on or having a few too many.
Fans cheered and sang along to his “One More Drinkin’ Song” and “How Can I Be So Thirsty (When I Drank So Much Last Night),” a tune that rang true for many in the crowd.
Niemann headlined the pre-party Wednesday night on the Barn Stage. WE Fest promoters guessed 3,000 to 4,000 country fans would attend the free show, though it seemed like that number was easily passed.
Some wondered if he didn’t set a high bar for himself to pass with the Wednesday show, which opened with a cover of AC/DC’s “Back in Black” as a band member, dressed in a Spider-Man costume jumped around and threw swag into the crowd. Niemann’s first song Wednesday was Alabama’s “Mountain Music,” a stomping not to one of next year’s headliners.
The other headliners were announced Thursday, Toby Keith returns and Jason Aldean gets his first shot at closing a night.
Both of Blake Shelton’s N.D. girls, sisters Linda Lake and Dorothy Huebner, got to meet their favorite singer Thursday. The Fargo superfans only had two tickets to a meet-and-greet with the singer, and Lake had promised to take her granddaughter.
Jeremiah from hosting radio station Froggy heard their plight and arranged for an additional ticket for Dorothy.