Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Stagecoach Festival review: Day 2 (afternoon)

My review originally appeared in the OC Register's Soundcheck blog.

photo by Robert Kinsler
Some folks at Stagecoach pay homage to their favorite artists in unique ways. On Friday, I spotted a young gal with small red Solo cups dangling from her earlobes. A Toby Keith fan, no doubt. 

While waiting for gates to open Saturday, I overheard some people discussing the somewhat polarizing new requirement this year that only those who own their RV can actually use it here.

"It actually makes for a more controlled atmosphere," said one woman.

Chris Shiflett (pictured, above), the guitarist for Foo Fighters – and sometimes punkers Me First & the Gimme Gimmes – kicked off the live performances not long after noon in the Palomino tent with his honky tonk band the Dead Peasants. 

They released a self-titled effort in 2010 and have a new album, All Hat and No Cattle, due soon. Several of those impressive selections, leavened with a sense of humor, were unveiled, including "Guitar Pickin' Man," "Good Time Charlie's" (about a favorite bar), the mellow "Happy Part of Town" and "Don't Think Hank Done It This Way." 

Clad in white hat, T-shirt and jeans, Shiflett said it was strange having people in lawn chairs at such close proximity. "I feel like I'm at a softball game playing in the diamond and you're suddenly going to throw chairs at me." 

His cool irreverence worked particularly well amid covers of Merle Haggard ("I'm Gonna Break Every Heart I Can") and Hank Williams (a charged-up "Your Cheatin' Heart"). 

photo by David Hall
Then I high-tailed it over to the packed corner of the Toyota World of Wonders tent to watch the end of Dierks Bentley's acoustic set amid all the circus-themed activities.

Backed by four bandmates, he noted that "there was a fine line between fan and friend" before the tender singalong "Home" and graciously urged everyone to catch part of Dwight Yoakam's set later in the evening, even though it overlapped with his own. 

In the Mustang tent, young Nashville bluegrass and old-time country band Westbound Rangers' good-natured set didn't hold my attention. 

A smattering of people looked as if they were there just for the shaded respite from the heat, giving polite applause to the spiritual "Gospel Plow," "Virgilina" and "Just Friends," from forthcoming album Gone for Way Too Long.

View more photos by David Hall at

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